Climate UPHEAVAL

ArtStreet introduces next installation in IAN series

By Joyell Nevins

Art is not just meant to be looked at; it’s meant to be experienced. And sometimes, it’s meant to change our thinking—and in doing so, our world.

Such is the case with the “tangible aesthetic” installations of the ArtStreet and the Institute for Arts Nexus at the University of Dayton. The latest installation, UPHEAVAL, opened last week to a surge of positive feedback and campus discussion.

The theme for the 2015-16 school year is climate. Climate is a “global gateway,” according to ArtStreet Director Brian LaDuca. Climate is multi-faceted, referencing environmental, political, religious or campus climate. Coming under that concept, the installations this year focus on our daily climate and our response to it.

First came THIRST. The installation focused on the human desire and need to have something.

Then came CONSUMPTON. In this capitalist society, we have access to fulfill many of these desires with material things.

FEAR was the next step and end to the fall session. It proposed the question “What happens when what you want or think you need is gone?” FEAR was meant to challenge participants to reflect on the things in their lives that cause them discomfort, such as fear of missing out, fear of what people think of us or fear of succeeding, according to ArtStreet Associate Director Adrienne Ausdenmoore.

The fear of loss leads into UPHEAVAL, a fight to get it back. ArtStreet explains its current installation this way: “When the world we know has been removed, taken away from, or simply consumed—and the reality that fear cannot be the only livable choice—society’s reaction is one of sudden change or disruption. This is UPHEAVAL.”

The installation was originally going to be creatively led by Krista Franklin, who worked with the institute on the FEAR project. But due to some unexpected but welcome success on her part, she was unable to complete it. And since the installation was constructed over break, there weren’t any students around to collaborate, either. So LaDuca, Ausdenmoore and their co-workers Program Coordinator Mike Puckett and Academic Development Assistant Karlos Marshall did the total installation themselves.

“We are fully capable, but we’re producers, not installers,” laughs LaDuca. “As a team, though, we gelled. I am extremely satisfied with the results.”

The UPHEAVAL installation is divided into two mirrored sections—the campus climate in the Vietnam era of 1965-1975 and an imagining of the campus climate from 2016-2026. LaDuca credits the Stanford 2025 project of Stanford University with the concept of projecting a vision for what they want their own college climate and experience to look like.

On one side of UPHEAVAL hangs clear bubbles, on the other bubbles lay shattered. This “UD bubble” is a recurring theme throughout the installation.

“The ‘UD bubble’ is the nickname of the overall nature of the students and the campus,” LaDuca says. “Due to the neighborhood design and the ease of community and partying on campus, the bubble is what the students never get out of to explore other areas of the city. It can also describe the lack of national influence on what is happening on our campus.”

But, he concluded, times are changing and the bubble is about to get an upheaval.

“The bubble was said to be challenged in Vietnam for the first time, and we are considering the bubble completely burst now and into the future,” LaDuca declares.

The mirrored installation also features collages of actual newspaper articles from the Vietnam era, describing revolts and commotion, alongside print media that hasn’t happened yet—media that details items such as female presidents, green initiatives and transgender speakers.

In the middle of the installation is an interactive sound design. Two chairs face each other, with sight lines to their own mirrored reflections and talking point questions on the table in front of them.

People are able to record 45-second sound bytes of their conversation, which is then immediately added into the dialogue loop continually playing in the background. Questions invite participants to comment on their reactions to the UPHEAVAL installation, the current UD campus climate and how to use UPHEAVEAL as a catalyst for positive change.

“With UPHEAVAL, we’re hoping to start a conversation between generations. With so much transition and conflict that happened both in the world and on UD’s campus from 1965-1975, we are hoping to create a parallel between what could happen from 2016-2026,” junior Maggie Schaller says.

Schaller is a member of the campus advocacy group for human rights, Consciousness Rising. ArtStreet staff consulted with the group as an initial sounding board when building the UPHEAVAL installation.

The conversation set rests on artifacts from the CONSUMPTION and FEAR exhibitions—pieces that solicited handwritten responses from those particular installations.

“They represent the now, the today,” LaDuca says. “The fears, the wants and the desires of people at this very moment.”

UPHEAVAL runs through Feb. 24. at ArtStreet, located at the intersection of Lawnview Avenue and Kiefaber Sreet on the University of Dayton campus. ArtStreet is open 8 a.m.-midnight Monday-Friday and noon-midnight Saturday-Sunday. For more information about ArtStreet events, please call 937.229.5101 or visit udayton.edu/artstreet.

Joyell Nevins believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com or reach her at joyellnevins@daytoncitypaper.com.

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Joyell Nevins
Joyell believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com or reach her at joyellnevins@daytoncitypaper.com

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