CU Denver Sculpture Club sponsors interdisciplinary exhibition
Inside the Cluberation at Pirate: Contemporary Art
This past month, Pirate: Contemporary Art gallery hosted the most recent exhibition for CU Denver’s Sculpture Club.
The free art show Cluberation was, above all, about the intersections of art. All sorts of mediums were represented—photography, sculpture, painting—and drew on cultural ties as diverse as Hispanic, Islamic, and Nordic tradition. Each piece was judged and selected by local artist Mai Wyn Schantz, recently praised as a 100 Colorado Creative by Westword. A gallerist herself, Schantz has experience putting disparate artwork in conversation with one another.
This skill especially paid off in the single, open-floor room of Pirate. Although each piece was created independently and initially struck viewers as wildly different, pastel teals and pinks and wood echoed throughout, uniting them in such a subtle way that attentive viewers could draw more connections the longer they looked.
Cluberation reflected a growing multidisciplinary interest in the art community and within CU Denver’s art department particularly. The department is in the process of shifting to a new “art practices” degree, meaning that students might no longer be restricted to majoring in one medium.
“I think no one likes the restriction of single medium classes,” artist Cary Frank said. “In our interdisciplinary class, I can make a sculpture and then be like, ‘Now I want to paint it.’” His painting-poem set, “The Nornir Sisters,” reimagines figures of Norse mythology as 17th-century gold miners.
Fellow artist Ahmad Alwazzan is an example of a different kind of intersectionality. He’s a math major whose murals bring together measurement-based Islamic calligraphy and Arabic poetry to explore emotional duality.
The words in his gallery piece, “Calligraphy Decay,” translated mean, “I’m surprised how my eyelids close during the night until the rise of the red dawn, after all I’ve done in my life.” Alwazzan explains that the quote and his colors represent “the brightest emotions one comes by… [and] the darkest, and the mix of those two is what makes a human being, I would say.”
Meanwhile, transmedia sculpture student Emily Zeek pairs together philosophical concepts and child’s play in her interactive sculpture “Anarchy Blocks.” Zeek carves recycled wood into alphabet blocks, which interested viewers can buy in sets, such as “anarchy,” “marxism,” and “soviet.” Viewers were encouraged to touch and rearrange the blocks on display to form new words.
“I was trying to point out the irony of the capitalist model selling marxism or selling anti-capitalist ideas and commodifying them,” Zeek says. “There’s this anxiety about these ideas and topics, and so I felt like making them in a way that you could just touch and play with them like a child’s toy.”
Through exhibitions like this, Sculpture Club aims to let emerging artists and audiences interact with one another and give artists a chance to sell their work to people it speaks to. Art is inherently about communication in all its complexity, and this show successfully highlighted that.
As Zeek admits, “Art is definitely something you surf… I’m following it.”
Keep an eye out for Sculpture Club’s upcoming events, including Iron Tribe, a conference featuring a live iron pour.