Students break visual boundaries
Posted April 28 ,2006
Kelly Rivas
The student art show “Unconscious Hour” featured 12 University of La Verne artists and was curated by the students in Art 390. The reception held on April 20 in the Harris Art Gallery was designed and coordinated by the students as well. The show contains paintings, photographs, collages, drawings and a live performance piece by senior theater arts major James Darrah. Jessica Swapp, freshman, was one of four women in Darrah’s piece, “Eight Over Sixteen.”

Students, faculty and staff gathered for the opening of the art show “Unconscious Hour” at the Harris Art Gallery April 20.

“This is an art show. We didn’t want this to be a student art show,” said Matthew Breatore, principal curator.

He felt the term “student art show” would make the exhibit seem less professional. The art, curating and design that went into the show were all professional-grade work.

Along with the Art 390 class, Breatore, a senior art history and music performance double major, began preparing for this exhibition at the beginning of the semester.

“We’ve been sending flyers, choosing art work and designing the catalog,” said Gerson San Juan, a junior art major and curator. “We had writers, a main curator, assistant curator and designers.”
The title, “Unconscious Hour,” was also its theme.

“It’s a good intellectual theme; it challenges standardized perceptions,” Breatore said.

He described the theme as a change from experience into memory and perception into reality.

Quite possibly the most difficult art to understand was the performance art, “Eight Over Sixteen,” directed by senior theater arts major James
Darrah and performed by Associate Professor of Theater Arts Jane Dibbell, junior Rhiannon Cuddy, alumna Stephanie Barraco and sophomore Jessica Swapp.

“I don’t think many people have seen this kind of moving art. It’s messy,” said Julianne Hadfield, a senior liberal arts major. “The actors are part of the art.”

“They’re creating a new stage. The art is evolving through their actions,” she added.

The actresses were doing different things on the stage; one was cutting up magazines and running around with scissors while another decorated the stage and chairs with flowers. Not only was it difficult for the audience to understand what was going on, the actresses too were not accustomed to this kind of art.

“It was a challenge for them as actresses,” Darrah said. “It’s very different than working on a theater production.”

“The script is based on the interaction between thought and action, but I left that description vague on purpose,” he added. He wanted each viewer to form their own understanding of the performance.

“Art always depends on the person. You have to read into it,” Hadfield said.

The “Eight Over Sixteen” performance involved four women acting on and around a small stage of four chairs.

Each woman wore a white dress with various accessories. The actresses each displayed some aspect of feminine behavior, but the perception of what was going on was subjective.

“I think that these women are showing the different sides of a woman,” Hadfield said.

No matter what the artistic goal in mind was, the performance was a popular piece.

“The live performance attracted people to come see the art,” said Silvia Guerra, a sophomore psychology and art double major.

One of Guerra’s pieces was named “The Tree of the Sad Night.” She explained that the tree is where you go after you have your heart broken. Guerra said that the piece was inspired by the Spanish rock band Zoe.

“It’s weird because an artist tries to put everything into the drawing so the person can see another side of you,” Guerra said.

She explained that art displays another dimension of herself that viewers may not see without viewing the art.

Alanna Carnahan, a junior criminology major, said that her artwork was also inspired by music and poetry.

“They have to do with love or the heart,” Carnahan said. “I’m inspired by Elliot Smith and poetry from Robert Frost.”

Her painting “Broken” received much of the attention with its deep colors and abstract lines.

It was obvious that the artists were proud to have their inspirational work on display, but they also displayed some amount of apprehensiveness.

“I feel vulnerable, but at the same time, proud of the work,” said Matthew Hill, a sophomore art and creative writing double major. “It’s liberating.”

“My work isn’t the kind that normally goes up on the wall. Design work ends up on a computer or in a file,” he added.

Approximately 100 people arrived for the opening of the show.
“It couldn’t have been better; we got great art,” Breatore said.
“Unconscious Hour” will be open until May 4.

The aftermath of the live performance will also be on display until the exhibition ends.

Actresses from this exhibit will randomly come to the gallery to adapt and change the stage.

Eric Iberri can be reached at

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