A group of CCRI art students is asking the campus community to take home a piece of contemporary American art – literally.
Students in “Art History: Modern through Contemporary” at the Knight Campus in Warwick are hanging perforated prints this week outside of the elevators on the second and sixth floors and near the cafeteria in hopes that passersby will remove a piece and respond on Instagram with the hashtag #americanpiece.
Responses can capture why a person chose a particular work, and what that piece of artwork means to him or her. By asking for a response, students who organized the project are hoping to generate a conversation about community and perception on campus. The project began with a study of current political and social art and its historic precedents. Students were required to collaborate in a response and chose to focus on “connectivity.”
“It is about getting people to understand that something, whatever it is, can have many meanings,” said Jason Paschal, a Fine Arts major who is participating in the project. “Most things you see have a very specific goal and message. This is a lot more open, and I think that’s a good thing.”
Students selected works from prominent contemporary American artists Kara Walker, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.
“These artists have work that is socially and culturally relevant, and we want others to physically tear them apart so they can grab hold of the work and contemplate upon it,” said Professor Natalie Coletta.
The project is an extension of their classroom work, which focuses on modern and contemporary art and how these styles interact with their audiences and represent when, where and why artists created their work.
Students selected Walker, Rauschenberg and Warhol after conversations and writings about connectivity and community in art after 1940.
“By interacting with the art, participants can better understand the fullness of the work and better understand the moment and place that inspired the art,” Coletta said. Rather than drive a divide between the different interpretations, it is meant to shine a light on the importance of differing perspectives.
“It’s about the meaning to you. What is your perspective of what it means to view? How do you feel about it? Whether or not you like it, that’s still a reaction and that’s still a feeling,” said Kaitlynn Callahan, a General Studies major who is working on the project with her classmates.
The idea is that pieces of the art will be torn off, and each piece will be passed along to others to motivate action and conversation.
“We’re here to get new ideas and to see new perspectives on things, not really to take it and regurgitate it. It’s about understanding something new and different,” said Joe Welch, a Fine Arts student. “The whole idea is to show why you are doing something. What speaks to you about something?”