Transport to ‘Another World’ at the Rose
The Rose Art Museum Fall Opening premiered several new exhibitions last Friday composed of a variety of different media, leaving me amazed.
“To Build Another World” is a series of protest signage made by Brooklyn-based artist Tuesday Smillie that explores how different materials and color combinations can express a strong message with only a few words. Among all of the textile works in the exhibit, “Again” struck me as the most powerful. At first, my attention was drawn to the structure of the sentence, which is unusually worded, “The razor blades we’ve swallowed will cut us again as we cough them up, to cut each other.” Going beyond the words, the raw cut of the cloth and the red loose threads appeared to be dripping off the edge, which matches the “razor” theme in the sentence. The transition from literal presentation to a more abstract, graphic one enhances the message that fighting maliciousness with cruelty will only lead to more brutal pain.
While Smillie’s slogans present a direct message to the public, “Plunder” by Tony Lewis is a more abstract work that focuses on the use of space and other alternative materials. While the piece looks simple from far away, every part of the work imparts a sense of uneasiness: The whole structure is made from slices of rubber bands with charcoal handprints all over the wall behind it. Contrary to the surrounding area, which is nice and clean, the dark rubber forces a sense of heaviness on viewers. To strengthen its effect, the exhibition is displayed next to a set of stairs. Museum-goers need to walk down the stairs while appoaching the object, as though they are entering into a void. This reminds me of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., designed by Maya Lin. Both works use basic elements: granite in the Memorial and rubber bands in “Plunder” to create a force field that grabs the viewers’ focus.
Last but not least, “The Undisciplined Collector” by Mark Dion is probably my favorite among all the exhibitions. Because the piece is structured as a room, it feels as though you are entering into a different world from the museum. On one hand, the details of the room reflect the taste of the “Undisciplined Collector.” From little bottles containing paintings to large sculptures, the curator of the room evidently has keen interests in a variety of cultures. On the other hand, this does not seem like any room you would find in a house — it is filled with antiques, old books and an excessive number of trinkets, to the point that there is little space to move around. More precisely, it feels like a room set up solely for its owner to sit down on the couch and enjoy the view, which makes it a perfect room for a museum.
This was my first time in the Rose Art Museum, and I very much enjoyed it. Not only does it contain a surprisingly extensive collection of artwork, but also the exhibitions cover a diverse variety of art forms. It won’t take a long time to walk through the building, but there is always something for everyone.
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