Long fascinated by early civilizations, Robert Ullerich signed up for a class in ancient art and culture at Washington State University expecting to gain new insights to human history but not ancient skills – surely nothing he could apply in his 21st-century life.
This spring, Ullerich and his classmates in Hallie G. Meredith’s “Arts of Ancient Greece and Rome” course were conducting research and preparing workshops to teach Pullman and Spokane community members about ancient technology and how to create books the way early people did, including binding pages and making their own ink, styluses and paint brushes.
Meredith, a clinical assistant professor of fine arts, designed the workshops to coincide with an exhibition of artifacts from the lost Roman city of Pompeii at Spokane’s Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), where some 500 people were expected to participate.
Is being “soft” powerful? How can “soft” ways build strength? These are just some of the questions that June T. Sanders and Krista Brand, guest curators from Washington State University, pose in a new group show titled “Soften.”
“The word ‘softness’ is an idea that can contain multitudes,” said Sanders, a prize-winning curator, photographer, writer and assistant professor of digital arts and culture at WSU. “Softness can be a color palette; softness can be a way of relating to each other; softness can be a form of harnessing your own power.”
To celebrate the power of softness, Brand and Sanders have gathered a dozen works by diverse artists Sarah Barnett, Jessica Earle, Sydney McLeod, Nadiya Nacorda, Morganne Radziewicz, Mica Lillith Smith and Azzah Sultan. The artworks display softness of form and aesthetics within a variety of mediums, including video, painting, printmaking and collage.
“Soften” is online now at spokanearts.org through June 26 and hanging at the Chase Gallery in the basement of Spokane City Hall. The gallery is closed to the public until restrictions due to COVID-19 lift.
From the impact of a Universal Basic Income to safer nuclear fuel to muscle genes in trout – this year’s eight New Faculty Seed Grant awards span a wide range of topics and disciplines. The program, which is funded through WSU’s Office of Research and the President and Provost offices, awarded a total of $155,370 this year.
The New Faculty Seed Grant program helps junior faculty build a foundation for their research and creative programs. This kick-start funding also provides a basis for faculty to apply for extramural funding and creates opportunities for professional growth.
The four CAS faculty seed grant awardees are: Mariana Amorim in sociology; Xiaofeng Guo in chemistry; William Hall in mathematics and statistics; and Hallie G. Meredith in fine arts.
Like the gears in a finely tuned machine, donor contributions keep many non-profits – including the Palouse Discovery Science Center – running smoothly. So when digital media students at Washington State University were asked to visually represent donor support for the PDSC, the idea of interconnected gears quickly emerged and became, quite literally, the perfect fit.
Seventeen undergraduates in Reza Safavi’s fine arts course in introductory digital design and fabrication last spring worked individually and as a team to create a 7-by-7-foot interactive art installation composed of 22 precision-cut and fitted, wooden cogwheels bearing the names of PDSC’s generous benefactors.
“The project provided an opportunity for our students to gain professional experience by working with a community organization to design, create and present an interactive, digitally fabricated, public work of art,” said Safavi. “It’s a great example of how WSU classes can engage with the wider community and further serve the university’s land-grant mission.”
In this week’s edition of “Five Questions With …,” CAFE 541 sits down with Portland artist Avantika Bawa, associate professor of fine arts at Washington State University Vancouver, who is currently showing ”#FFFFF,” part of her “Scaffold Series,” at Springfield’s Ditch Projects gallery. Bawa’s utilitarian structures, appearing in Mumbai and the White Salt Desert in India and in Astoria lose their function to become strange, stark elements of what are often already strange, stark settings.
You have been a contemporary artist for many years. I’m curious what or who inspired you to follow the path of becoming a contemporary artist?
It just happened! I cannot pinpoint exactly when it started but working with drawing tools was always part of my life. I recall one day, when I snuck into my father’s office at age 6 and began to draw with staples. I wondered how many other non-art materials I could draw with. From there, my curiosity and explorations only grew. The inspirations have been many, ranging from an endless number of artists, filmmakers, musicians and friends to traveling to new and obscure places. The list is endless. We would need a longer interview for this!
As a contemporary artist, is there a tool or a material component that you couldn’t imagine going without? Why is this so integral to your work?
Yes and no. I like the challenge of landing in a site and working with the materials I find there. I embrace the “locally sourced” and “fabricated” materials and see how far I can go with just that.
Having said that, I do like a box of 2B pencils, a 12- to 16-inch straight edge and a mechanical sharpener that won’t suddenly die. That’s technically three tools, but I see them as related. I use a lot of graphite lines in my work, and I need my lines to be sharp and straight! Although ”#FFFFFF” does not use any of these, the aesthetic is still evident. You can observe a lot of sharp straight lines in the scaffolds and its shadows.