Class uses art for social change

There have been several new art projects hanging around campus this semester, many of which include a flower blossom where the Saddlemire Student Services Building once stood and a set of lungs sitting in an ashtray by the Fine Arts Building. But these pieces of art didn’t just appear out of thin air. They were produced through ART 112, 3-D Foundations, taught by instructor Joe Meiser. The art was part of an intervention project which is to make students aware that their art can be a force of change in society. ‘My interest in it is to show the students [that] art doesn’t need to be passive, and art can bring around change,’ Meiser said. Students of his class were not only required to make the art, but also had to place it somewhere relevant and then document people’s reactions. Sophomore Dan Moosman said one woman came up and started poking his piece of art when he had it at the Union. Moosman’s project was a skeleton dressed in a suit with want-ads papermached to his face with jobs circled on them. Moosman later moved his project from the Union due to fire restrictions and put it in front of the Business Administration Building. He said his project seemed more relevant there because it was about unemployment and how it is harder to find jobs. ‘This is what [business majors] need to know for the work force,’ he said. Sophomore Joanne Roushey said she used smoking as her project to enhance awareness to smokers who smoke outside campus buildings. Her piece resembled a rib cage with two healthy lungs breathing in smoke in the form of black Christmas lights. She said her inspiration came from people who smoke right outside building doors and how walkers have no choice but to breathe in the cigarette smoke. Her piece was placed outside the Fine Arts Building. Sophomore Kyle Butler made a pill bottle with Facebook’s signature letter ‘F’ as the pills and featured a label saying, ‘take one every three hours.’ The piece was meant to show Facebook addiction, he said. One final project is the Lotus Blossom, from the imagination of sophomore Caitlin Stoner, which sits outside the Fine Arts Building. Originally, the piece was featured by Prout Chapel and accented a type of performing arts piece where Stoner stood out in front of the chapel in a white yoga outfit and chanted with her eyes closed. ‘It was about religious intolerance and misunderstanding,’ she said. Stoner’s Lotus Blossom was later moved to the former site of the Saddlemire Building after the project was over. She said she thinks the move changed a little of the meaning behind it. But if anything, it is something beautiful for people to look at, she added. Meiser said that while artists used to create aesthetic objects, many artists today are beginning to think of themselves as cultural-artistic service providers. ‘I want my students to understand that art doesn’t have to be a passive agent,’ he said. ‘It can be used to actively shape the world at large.’