Over the summer, Paris, the home of painters, writers and musicians for centuries, exuded its influence over local artists. The fruits of their inspiration are on display at the Centre Gallery in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.
The Summer Arts Program in Paris, now in its 18th year, took 50 students to live and learn in the City of Lights for one month. Re-Enchante is the reflection of what they learned and assimilated.The exhibit is versatile and ranges from collages and photographs to sculptures and interactive scrapbooks. Collages made from “indigenous” Parisian materials such as maps, coins, newspaper clippings, photos of the traveling group, flyers and magazine ads dominated the gallery space. These same objects appear in many of the works displayed, adding a slightly monotonous feel to the otherwise lively and rather upbeat theme of life in a busy European city.
“All the pieces were either made in Paris or back home as a reflection of the trip when we got back,” said Heather Linton, the exhibit’s curator, whose “Montmartre Diptych” is on display. “All the journals in the gallery were done in Paris.”
The pieces tell a tale of travel and learning. Most comprehensive are the Carnets de Voyage, or journals of travel, located in the center of the gallery. Some are much more involved and interesting than others, but all provide the viewer with observations of people, life and experiences of the cultural metropolis.
“I think the work plays off of each other very well,” she said. “It gives me the sense of Paris without actually (having to be) there. It’s a collective, a lot of the work we can all relate to in some way or another from our experiences.”
Jordan Starr-Bochiccio’s untitled piece begins the exploration with a magnified adaptation of an airline luggage sticker. Lauren Charles’ “By and Large” leads the viewer through the group’s voyage with framed photographs with purposefully – albeit somewhat awkwardly – placed cutouts of people with mismatched faces. The audio and visual pieces in the gallery immerse the viewer in the hustle and bustle of the city.
Two pieces by photography and digital media professor Wendy Babcox, an instructor of the Paris program, are photographs taken on a plastic camera developed with multiple exposures.
“There are carousels all over Paris, and it was something that became part of my experience there,” Babcox said. “I like the relationship between the carousels and the business of the city.”
As part of her class, Babcox singled out the idea of walking as a form of design, taking alternative routes and letting the city pull the pedestrian in different directions to discover the “non-monumental side of Paris,” she said.
“In Paris, you can walk anywhere, in any direction. You don’t need a map,” Babcox said. “Eventually you’ll stumble across a metro, and if you’ve had enough, you can go on home, (but walking is just a) carefree way to engage with the city.”
Building on this idea, Bryan Bernardo’s “Walking” is a series of photographs taken during a 30-minute stroll through the city. Accompanying the visual representation of the walk is an auditory experience of the same trip.
“I felt it was an interesting way to experience a piece of a trip I went through,” said Bernardo, a senior majoring in studio arts. “It’s not necessarily a literal sense of a place in a sense that I experienced the idea, but the auditory components and the motion of walking through the space.”Bernardo’s other piece, “Dix Minutes Dans Les Champs de Mars,” is a visual composite of 95 separate images merged into one.
Illuminated at night, the light bulbs affixed to the Eiffel Tower sparkle for 10 minutes at the top of each hour, Bernardo said.
“I wanted to capture the 10 minutes of time and compress it into a single image,” he said.
A video presentation of Emily Winton’s “Documentation of McDonald’s Protest in Paris” links the American background of the artist to the French experience. The senior in fine arts, whose work usually centers on her own body image, staged a 30-minute protest in front of the American corporation’s restaurant on a busy Parisian street.
“(My work focuses on) what it is like to be an overweight person in today’s society,” Winton said. “I want to portray that to others.”
Developing a project that required students to insert themselves into the city, Winton decided to stick to the lines of the rest of her body of work.
“I came up with the idea of doing a protest at McDonald’s because in France most people sit down for lunch and meals and enjoy their time with people,” she said. “As the country, and Europe in general, is becoming Westernized, they’re losing that.”
Winton distributed flyers to educate the French passers-by.
“I stood in front of McDonald’s holding a sign saying ‘I grew up eating McDonald’s; this is the result,'” she said.