Nestled beside the community feast, the Gund Gallery invited students, faculty and community members to explore the fall 2018 exhibitions at their opening reception: Pia Fries, Publishing Against the Grain, and Cy Twombly’s Natural History, Part 1, Mushrooms.
The opening reception, which featured local bourbon cocktails for attendees of age, ran concurrently with the feast and served as a grand opening for the fall semester. The exhibitions offered a refreshing return to Gambier with an exploration of nature, community and convention.
One of the new exhibitions, Publishing Against the Grain, represents a drive for communal, inclusive access, celebrates the ways media can be distributed. The collection includes independent “literary” publications like books, magazines and websites from all across the world. With each publication focusing on different cultural, social and political concerns, the exhibition invites viewers to consider what community means in a larger context.
Publishing Against the Grain also challenges the convention of the traditional art exhibit, offering a space to sit and read as well as view. The chairs, tables and spreads invite you to linger. “Walking in, it felt almost like a library,” Jess Karan ’21 said. “It’s not just art on walls — you could walk in and have a moment. You could elapse as much time as you wanted.”
The other two exhibitions are set up more traditionally. Pia Fries’s paintings and Cy Twombly’s collection, Natural History, Part 1, Mushrooms, line the walls, collaged images of abstract paintings and scientific renderings of fungi.
Despite this, the art itself has its own ways of challenging convention. Her art is an attempt to unite the aesthetic of 17th century prints with Fries’ abstract expressionist style. The result is a vibrant whirlwind of colorful, layered paint complemented by abundant negative.
Twombly’s pieces are equally innovative and exploratory. His work combines drawings, paint and print into lithographs that use both form and content to explore the relationship between nature and culture. The bizarre and beautiful prints of the mushrooms give Twombly the ideal materials to explore his more abstract sensibilities.
All of the current exhibitions transcend conventional expectations, inviting viewers to question their expectations and consider what it means to go against the grain.
“It was great to see an artist I’d been following before,” said Brent Matheny ’19. “Twombly’s pieces make me think about the odd intersection of detritus, forests and queer identity. Really, the best part was seeing new art for a new year, with new friends.”
The exhibitions will be on display in Gund Gallery through Dec. 16.