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The Ohio State University’s first year graduate students in the Department of Art are exhibiting at the newly opened Swing Space Gallery at the Gateway in Columbus, Ohio. Recent Arrivals, an annual exhibition, features the work of twenty-one students from Art + Technology, Ceramics, Glass, Painting + Drawing, Photography, Printmaking, and Sculpture. Many of the works challenge the viewer’s perceptions.
Charisse Harris painted a large phone number in green on the gallery wall. The artist invites visitors to dial the number and listen to a ringtone featuring John Cage’s performance 4’33” combined with Jay-Z and Kanye West’s hip hop song N***** in Paris. The poor audio component painstakingly plays for just over two minutes before the voice-mail kicks in. The listener may then voice an opinion on the use of the n-word. Similar to the audience’s reactions to Cage’s piece, in which the deprivation of sound creates the expectation that maybe some unexpected sound will occur; Harris’ ringtone places one in a situation anticipating the n-word’s use. The song keeps the listener waiting and waiting. Once it happens one feels oddly satisfied. Expectation of the n-word causes all other words in the song to become a metaphoric silence. The piece reflects society’s division over the n-word’s use as a racial slur, its adoption as a symbol of unity in the African American community, and people’s willingness to ignore the issue completely.
Hansoo Ha exhibits two photographs of discarded pencils that he found on The Ohio State University campus. His statement explains that in his home country, South Korea, people cherish pencils; nobody discards them and it shocked him to find so many pencils in good condition lying in the streets. The pencils symbolize the differences between cultures. Analyzing every splinter and mark on the surface of these instruments, the viewer begins to see and understand each object’s history. These objects become memorialized through photographic documentation.
David Knox explores line and structure in an installation using tape. The piece wraps around a corner and then continues downward activating the gallery floor as well as the viewer by encroaching into personal space. Leah Hartman Frankel’s piece causes us to be aware of our own bodies. In the middle of the gallery floor lay perfectly rectangular spaces filled with varying levels of sand. Frankel investigates the qualities of the material, allowing some areas of sand to buildup higher than others. However, the piece is placed in a vulnerable space that sees much foot traffic.
Recent Arrivals is up until January 26th so stop by and see all the artists’ work.
John McCaughey is an artist and writer based in Columbus, OH. View more articles by John McCaughey.