On Wednesday September 18th the Patricia & Philip Frost Art Museum opened with two new exhibitions on the third floor featuring the art work of faculty members Pip Brant and Michael Namkung. Between these two artists the show was an exhilarating collection of painting, textiles, drawings, sound and mixed media.
When you first step into the gallery space on the third floor you are thrown into a world of vibrant colors such as hot pinks meant to represent aggressive and suppressant puffs of war smoke, lime greens and rich oranges. This was Pip Brant’s re-enactment of famous battles or war in general. Her paintings and accompanying embroideries offer an alternative to re-creations of historical events by de-romanticizing these events and rendering them useless to history as the actual popular renditions already are.
Brant reflected on this body of work in her artist statement, “Even though there are attempts at authenticity, this is an impossible task. A degrading of the actual battles happens. Political correctness can further pollute the forgotten truths. With my works, I am trying to decompose these events even more, with the removal of color and conversions of visual information. The question that I want to play with has to do with color switches and abstractions that sweeten the gory truths usually romanticized by traditional panoramic historical painting and embroidery. I want to see color convey the content.”
In the gallery space next to Brant’s work is assistant art and art history professor Michael Namkung with his show Baby Pictures and the People’s Lullaby Collective. The entire gallery floor is covered from wall to wall with the world’s largest alphabet foam board and the audience is asked to remove their shoes before walking into the space. In the artist statement Namkung suggests that removing your shoes might help your body remember to feel. The images hung on the walls consist of 26 unframed monotype prints with captions indicating what was happening at the moment the drawing was created, the age of the artists’ baby at the time, the date and the duration of time it took for the image to be fully produced. There is also a multilingual lullaby collection sang by 47 caregivers singing to their children playing across the room. Through this lullaby Namkung advocates that through the sound waves emotions are expressed in the materiality of the voice. Babies will sense when you are not engaged so you must open up your senses to be vulnerable and empathic, tying back in with Namkung’s reasoning for having you remove your shoes before entering the gallery space.
Between Brant and Namkungs’ shows you leave feeling vulnerable in a powerful way. As though you have just taken an emotional risk and are slightly uncertain about your feelings on all things relating to the past. Your childhood, your parents childhood, long forgotten war battles and immortalized moments in the history that is presented to us is completely put into question as we look at it through a new frame of mind. Both shows will be open in the gallery for viewing until October 12.