Student curated exhibit aims to reveal obscurity

Posted by Sarah Barry

From sculpture to photography, Zankel has expanded its walls to showcase both fine and performing art. Phoebe Pundyk ‘12 and Alec Unkovic ‘12 curated the exhibit "Revealing Obscurity," which consists of exclusively student art in Zankel's lobby.

Pundyk and Unkovic returned from a semester abroad with plans to create an exhibit on campus. Both students studied in Rome and curated a professional art show as a semester long class. "We had to do every step of the process," Pundyk said. "They threw us right in and we had to do everything on our own."

Immediately upon their return, the pair began planning and organizing for the exhibit. Pundyk and Unkovic applied for an independent study to pursue curating.

The show creates a new and visible space for student art on campus. "Student art isn't always seen – even in the art building it's mostly art students who see it. We wanted to open it up to the whole community," Pundyk said.

Although most open art calls center on a theme, Pundyk and Unkovic chose to collect submissions and then see if there was an underlying thread within the pieces.

"We decided to title it "Revealing Obscurity." It's about the artists working through their art to understand the unknown," Unkovic said.

Unkovic and Pundyk also completed a catalogue, which consists of interviews conducted by 10 different student writers. A student writer interviewed each artist, and the final result was compiled in the catalogue. The catalogue provides insight into the artists' motivations, as many of the pieces meanings are not explicit.

The inspiration for the student interviews originated from Pundyk and Unkovic's efforts for their art show in Rome. Pundyk and Unkovic completed each of the interviews themselves in Rome, but felt that, for this exhibit, it would be valuable to present other views.

"We presented writers with our theme and then opened it up to them to see their thoughts and perspective; it allowed us to open it up to more than our vision alone," Pundyk said.

Pundyk and Unkovic received approximately 20 submissions and showcased 10 artists. "There were so many good options, but part of the process is that sometimes you can't show everything you want to," Unkovic said.

Pundyk and Unkovic's project is the first student-initiated project of its kind on campus, so they were met with many questions and roadblocks. "Since it is a space that is very public, we had to prove that this wasn't a half baked idea," Unkovic said.

The show posed a series of unique challenges in terms of available space and the technicalities involved in displaying the art.

The Schick Art Gallery and Tang Teaching Museum are booked at least one year in advance, so Pundyk and Unkovic had to explore a new space for student art. Once Zankel was approved, Unkovic and Pundyk had to find a way to creatively hang the art in the lobby.

The show was made possible by student opportunity funds. Pundyk and Unkovic applied for funding immediately when they returned from Rome "Skidmore provided the net where we could do the intellectual exploration [as opposed to] focusing more attention on the money," Unkovic said.

As seniors hoping to pursue careers in the field of art, Unkovic and Pundyk appreciated the opportunity to pursue an area not available in Skidmore's set course list.

"I think it's good that it's not such a rigid curriculum. There are no classes on curating at Skidmore, but we were able to do something here that we really enjoyed abroad. It was a bridge between academics and the careers we'll be pursuing after college," Unkovic said.

The exhibit ends this weekend, Dec. 10, so the time to delve into student obscurity is running out. Pundyk and Unkovic expressed their appreciation to all those who were involved in and supported the exhibit. 

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