Exhibit asks viewers to question desires, THIRSTs

By: Scott Peterson – Staff Writer

What do we desire as college students? What do we thirst for? Superficial ideas may cross our mind first – more money, new clothes, the most up-to-date technology – but under these initial thoughts, what do we, innately desire? This is the question underlying ArtStreet’s newest installation, THIRST.

THIRST is a multidimensional experience and the first in a series of art exhibit at ArtStreet’s White Box Gallery for its 2015-16 season. This year’s series wishes to confront the question of what are human desires in spirituality, energy, freedoms and change. More specifically, THIRST wants to ask its audience the question, “What is it we desire?” This includes the desires we believe are in our core and what we consider to be temporary desires.

The work in the gallery at ArtStreet has always strived to provoke thought through unique exhibits. Stressing that creativity and different perspectives or outlooks can create discussions within the University of Dayton bubble and even the larger Dayton community.

For this undertaking, the Director of ArtStreet Brian LaDuca reached out for help from Andrew Hendrixson.  Hendrixson is an assistant professor of art and design at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. It is there that he teaches classes such as introductory two-dimensional design, advanced painting and an upper-division sculpture course.

“What are the desires that are secret or embarrassing or sit just below the level of our ability to articulate, though we may feel them strongly?” Andrew Hendrixson said regarding the overarching theme of the exhibit.

Hendrixson’s work at the Springfield Museum of Art and the Clark County Detention Center intrigued LaDuca, and led to collaboration on this exhibit.

“The creative process involved thinking and the editing of that thinking and conversation and more thinking and more editing and then action. I very much believe in the power of editing, simplifying and cutting what is unnecessary and extraneous,” Hendrixson said.

The final product consists of many parts, the most notable being the structure that resembles a room made completely of Red Solo Cups. Visitors are able to walk through this room, where speakers play sound clips and one lone light bulb is lit. A wall of mirrors waits at the exit of the room.

The structure is surrounded by sand and puddles of water, which represent the over-consumption of personal desires. As time goes on, more cups are taken off of the structure and placed on the ground. This makes the experience different every time someone enters the gallery.

Two projectors play a loop of video clips that consist of everything from “The Avengers” movie trailer to sports clips. The clips provide a representation of the media that so often distracts our lives.

The gallery also includes an interactive wall, on which guests can write what they really desire. The content written on the wall creates an eye opening revelation that shows some people wanting monetary and temporary wishes, while others have deep long-lasting desires.

“Some folks were self-conscious about my question to them, ‘What do you want?’ and then deflected the question with funny or evasive answers. Yet, even then, many were self-conscious about that,” Hendrixson said.

An exhibit like THIRST creates discussion that stems from the question posed prior to the creation of the exhibit. Every audience member can interpret it differently, and each interpretation is correct. The exhibit causes audiences to challenge perspectives and examine the desires so deeply embedded within us, that we can fail to recognize them.

“It is my hope that viewers will find the installation to be thought-provoking and question-asking. I do not think art is passive and merely decorative,” Hendrixson said. “If it is, it is probably bad art. I believe that art needs to work, it needs to do and it is my hope that this project compels viewers to ask themselves some big and maybe private questions.”

THIRST is the first in a series of installations that delve into the origins of want. CONSUMPTION, FEAR, UPHEAVAL and REFLECTION will strive to evoke similar dialogue among their audiences.

The THIRST exhibit will be displayed in the White Box Gallery on ArtStreet until Oct. 1.

Photo by Mike Tuckett.