By Brieanah Gouveia
On Friday, Jan. 24, the opening night of Barbara Weissberger’s exhibit, light/mirror/paper/meat, took place in Olin Gallery. Preceding the installation viewing, Weissberger gave a lecture on the evolution of and meaning behind her work.
Influenced by her time in Montana about 10 years ago, Weissberger began exploring the use of meat as a focus in her art. Starting with hamburgers, which she viewed as a great American icon, in wash drawings and watercolors, Weissberger eventually progressed to steak and other uncooked cuts of meat in her drawings and even more elaborate photographs.
Upon reading Michael Pollan’s book, Omnivore’s Dilemma, Weissberger began to relate her art to topics of environmentalism, economics, and the body as explored in Pollan’s text. Viewing human consumption of meat as an inherently intimate engagement with the natural world, Weissberger stated her interest in exploring this “continuum between nature and culture…as well as the tension between the animal body and the human body” within her work.
Weissberger’s creative process is essential to understanding other themes in her work: representation versus abstraction, as well as the tension between a flat image and dimensional space.
First, Weissberger photographs cuts of raw meat, sometimes in addition to flowers, rocks and other objects evocative of meat and parts of the human physiology covered in red artists tape. She then cuts the photographic prints into pieces which she then collages into abstract arrangements. Next, she places a mirror on one side of the collage in order to double the image without the inauthenticity of computer manipulation. Lastly, she photographs the final arrangement and acquires prints of the mirrored image.
Weissberger’s installation in Olin Gallery also has an interactive component. Viewers are encouraged to take a sheet of paper printed with a photograph taken by the artist, and make it into a book as detailed by instructions on the backside of the paper. Viewers are welcome to take their creations home!
Smoyer Gallery features Judith Klausner’s exhibit From Scratch. The theme of her collection relates as well to the production and consumption of food. In all of her pieces she combines products of the food industry with various fine art techniques such as sculpture, photography, painting, and sewing. For example, the exhibit displays actual embroidered toast, as well as Oreos that Judith has intricately carved into portraits of ancient Greco-Roman men and women.
On the nature of her art, Klausner states:
“My work is about choice. As a woman of the twenty-first century, I can choose to spend my day baking a load of bread, or to grab a package off a grocery store shelf after a long day at work. I can choose to spend my evenings embroidering. I can choose to combine these things and call it art.”
Both From Scratch and light/mirror/paper/meat will be on display until February 22. Olin Hall Galleries is open every day from 1-4 pm.