Modern art exhibit explores spatial relationships
Posted March 17, 2006

The Harris Art Gallery is currently housing an art exhibit titled “Drawn Together/Collapse Apart.”

Each of the pieces of art in the gallery uses drawings as their medium and follows a central theme.

“The basic idea is that I wanted artwork that dealt with the physical distance between objects,” Curator Curtis Stage said. “It was about physical space between people and collapsing the space between them.”

When Stage originally set out to pick the artists, he had a large list of people that he would have liked to use. He eventually worked the list down to eight artists: six from Los Angeles and two from Chicago.

“I either know (the artists) personally or was attracted to their work,” Stage said. “These people fit the theme the best.”

The first artist to agree to be shown in the exhibit was Adam Scott, whose art is first seen by attendees as they enter the Gallery. Scott normally makes large paintings, but he changed things up for this particular show.

Stage explained that Scott reversed the process. He took paintings that he had already done and made them into drawings that appeared to serve as a model for what the finished product would be. Each of the five drawings is black and white, other than one area of the picture that should stand out, such as an explosion in the picture “Real Estate.” This effect creates the feeling that the artwork is being pulled apart, and also emphasizes the fact that the drawings are about the process of painting, Stage said.

Another example of unusual artwork was the piece by Steve Roden. Stage said that Roden took a different approach to creating art. He began by recording sounds as he walked through a London subway station. He later replayed the sounds and drew a picture based on what he heard.

Roden’s piece, “20 intersections (London a-z),” appears very abstract, consisting mainly of spirals of different size and color, as well as a series of connected lines, both light and dark. Without knowing the back-story of this drawing, onlookers might never guess its inspiration.

This type of art is often confusing for those who do not fully understand the concept of abstract art. However, these pieces can still be appreciated.
“Because so many things we experience everyday are abstract (memory, music, time, emotion…), one can take a look and allow associations to filter into the experience,” Art Department Manager Dion Johnson stated in an e-mail. “Art can be enjoyed on many levels.”

Some pieces in the gallery used different mediums to con?vey their meanings, despite the stipulation that they must be a drawing. These pieces were still allowed, however, because they are “informed by” drawings.

“I think it is cool how there is a variety of art and how (Stage) stuck to the drawing theme but also used other types of pieces in it as well,” said Anthony Crawford, senior criminology major.

One example of another type of art informed by drawing was “Travelog, TG-LAC p561-E7” by Mike McMillin. This piece consists of a sculpture and two drawings. Stage described the sculpture as a “line drawing in space.” It represents a street in the Hollywood Hills area that leads to the house of one of McMillan’s collectors.

The two drawings on the wall are vector-graphed views of what one would see if they looked out from a certain point on the road.

“There is a dialog that is sometimes hidden…that you don’t see,” Stage said. “The images and pieces work without learning the details.”

That is why the gallery is such an interesting exhibit to see. Even without knowing the story behind the pieces, the artwork is overall interesting to view and fun when trying to decide for yourself what they mean. Knowing the actual back-story is, as Stage put it, “icing on the cake.”

Matthew Loriso can be reached at

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