Time In Time Out at
Transpace Gallery

By Sheldon Gooch

November 20, 2017

Projected on the back of a single interior wall, a video montage moves between multiple pairs of hands as they perform various tasks such as cutting paper and mixing paint. Fragments of conversations in studio are layered upon each other, buzzing in and out of the video, creating a seemingly single flow of sound. A synthesis of differing vocalizations, this effect aurally embodies the intention of this collaborative exhibition: to create a individual identity through the marks of multiple identities.  

Aptly titled Time In Time Out, this show adopted the conventions of the blue collar workplace to establish a cooperative environment of collaboration. Each of the sixteen artists (BFA students at Illinois State University) began by submitting a piece from their oeuvre with the knowledge that these pieces were to be manipulated dramatically. To assist in finding a starting point, some of the artists provided broad descriptions of their work to act  as a primer to working with their piece conceptually. With each manipulation made, a time card was signed to document the collaboration--“treating the pieces of [their] peers as if they were being manufactured in an artistic assembly line.”

The collective identity cultivated through this exhibition is one of rambunctiousness, where products of academic art practice and ideas of child's play coexist in an explosion of heavy blues, hot pinks, and bright yellows that accent Transpace Gallery. A fish tank stands freely in the center of the exhibition space. With the interior smeared in a blue goo and filled with a conglomeration of spaghetti, earbuds, and found objects, this concoction exudes the curiosity and experimental nature of children, beckoning viewers back to memories of kitchen raids in which anything and everything was thrown in a blender, ensuring a messy, grime-filled result. The result here, by the end of the exhibition’s run, was a mold-filled aquarium.

A children’s book sitting on a small wooden table in the corner perhaps best exemplifies adolescent fun within the show. Humorous doodles and scribblings in colored pencil and crayon distort the original imagery, projecting the child’s subconscious claim of ownership onto the book. Dried cranberries smashed between the pages, barely sticking against the paper, allude to memories of mischief and play.

While a collaborative voice has been crafted, many of the attributing artists’ signature marks are quite identifiable. From Marisa Boyd’s bite marks in paper and Lucas Stiegman’s photo of colorful doll props juxtaposed against raw meat, to Alissa Palmer’s figurative works on raw canvas and Haley Gray’s bug eyes, the identifiable fragments attest to the depth of the BFA program at Illinois State. The exhibition as a whole, calls back to the deconstructionist notion that identity is not original and created ab nihilo, but rather takes cues and influences from the world in which it is constructed.

Time In Time Out exceeds its own intentions and expectations by cultivating a selfhood through the utilization of collectivism. The artists within the BFA program subvert the age old stereotype of artists as “loners who just get to play around all day” by using it to their advantage, juxtaposing this idea with products of child's play and the concept of the adult workplace. In this way, these sixteen artists epitomize the saying “The Creative Adult is the Child Who Survived.”

Images courtesy of Lucas Stiegman.

Sheldon Gooch is a junior art history undergraduate at Illinois State University with a special interest in contemporary art since the 80s. Sheldon is currently an intern with Jan Brandt Gallery and is employed at University Galleries. Recently, he curated an apartment show entitled Distressed, Grotestque, & Well Expressed featuring the work of Lucas Stiegman and Marisa Boyd. Sheldon plans to continue curating shows in alternative spaces while growing as a writer and lover of art.