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In the spring of 2013, I was standing in line for concessions at the Angola Prison Rodeo in Louisiana. I had received a grant to conduct research on the controversial spectacle of the rodeo. A friendly man next to me suggested I try the fried pig tail and reminisced about his favorite snack. His t-shirt read RODEO WORKER. I recognized the t-shirt as the same worn by men behind booths at the rodeo’s craft fair, where they sold their art. The rodeo was held on the grounds of a maximum security prison. The men behind the booths were inmates. I bought a pig tail, found a seat on the bleachers, and gnawed on the deep-fried cartilage and bone. Dressed in black and white striped costumes, the inmates commenced the theatrical events of the rodeo as hordes of spectators cheered on. I couldn’t figure out how to eat my pigtail. Eventually, I grew tired of the rodeo’s pageantry, left my seat, and spent the rest of the day talking to the rodeo workers. ______________________________________________ Spectacles are difficult to overlook (or underlook). Fiction has formed my personal ideologies as much as real people and experiences have. Illusions can reveal great truths, provide escape, and offer an excuse to look at things a little differently, if only momentarily. I find that even when the veils of these mirages are lifted, there exists some underlying magnetism. These moments punctuate life, generating an unpredictable fluctuation that sheds light on the complexities of our social experience, upholds cultural idiosyncrasies and acknowledges collective vices. This body of work embraces the theatrical cues of flashy venues and their tools of trickery while simultaneously admitting their fantastic fallacy. The video works document various embodiments of temporary pleasure, intrigue, and thrill. Bars, strip clubs, theme parks, arcades and other fabricated environments begin to represent a greater relationship between moments of extraordinary circumstance and the inevitable return to daily routine. The sculptural pile of lit-arrows attempts to put the universal icon of direction at risk of becoming futile. ________________________________ This exhibition was made possible thanks to many resources provided by the Create Space, Nathan Berger’s expertise…two short-throw projectors, an iPad mini mac, three iPads, a nexus phone, an LCD TV, a Pyle audio mini amp, surround sound speakers and a partridge in a pear tree, to be exact!      ...

Hyperspace Playground

By Barry O'Keefe

A series of kinetic sculptures that modify the non-spaces formed at the margins of highway infrastructure. The swing, with its connotations of youth, freedom and wonder is inserted into this alienated wasteland in order to highlight through contrast the distorted values inherent in the design of our landscape. The on ramp and the overpass, through the anomalous presence of a person, are rendered monumental and sublime, and reveal their hostility to the human body, and indifference to history, culture and social relationships. Animations which document this project were displayed using resources from the Create Space.  ...

Dodecahedra

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‘Dodecahedra’ is an installation utilizing sculptural object and projection to transform a space through refracted light. The concept for ‘Dodecahedra’ originated from Plato’s assignment of the five platonic solids to the elements that construct the universe, including fire, water, earth, and air. The dodecahedron, or 12-sided solid, is representative of the cosmos itself. The dodecahedra in my installation have been constructed from cut and folded plastic material, and a projected animation of changing color and light creates moving and changing refractions on the walls and ceiling. I am interested in creating a transformed space for the viewer to enter into and instill a sense of meditative calm similar to what I feel during the repetitious creation of these objects. I hope to evoke in the viewer ideas of creation, existence, and the truth of our perception.      ...

Thesis Review Presentation

By Barry O'Keefe

In mid spring semester of our second year, grad students in the School of Art + Design meet with the professors on our committees to discuss our thesis projects. I used a projector to tell the story of my work so far, and describe how my proposed thesis extends this research. The abstract of my project is included below. The featured images are of past, related work. You can read more about my work so far at my website: www.barryokeefe.com Open Inbox | Abstract “I propose to create a series of five public art installations in Richmond, Virginia. These sculptures will act both as monuments to neighborhood history and identity, and as functional community message boards and meeting points. At a time in our culture when traditional models of community are under threat, these sculptures will provide neighbors a way to connect, communicate and construct shared identity. Each message box will be designed for a specific Richmond neighborhood. The sculptures will take the form of shallow covered boxes, enclosed by walls and doors featuring carvings and decorative patterns which tell the story of each place. These carvings will reference through imagery and architectural design the unique character and history of the spaces they inhabit. The interior of the boxes will provide a deeply needed public space for expression and communication. Five artist books, investigating the history of the five neighborhoods chosen, will be exhibited alongside the sculptures – allowing viewers access to the research which has informed each piece. Following my thesis exhibition in Spring 2016, I will establish permanent homes for each sculpture in Richmond, in partnership with the Department of Planning and Development Review. Functional sculptures following this design have the potential to expand to other neighborhoods within the city of Richmond, and to other cities interested in strengthening community and enlivening the landscape of the street.”  ...

The Sailing Cart

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This work explores the relationship between everyday items and life as performance. By slightly transforming disregarded and forgotten objects, there is a sense of wonder and a newfound appreciation. As an object’s utility changes, so does its relationship with the world around it. Through observation and report transcending objects’ set functions leaves the viewer with a hymn to the limits of our existence as well as the limits of the world around us.   http://www.aesthetictechnologies.org/atlab/wp-content/uploads/tdomf/11643/CARTAUDIOMP3.mp3  ...

Elliptical Interactions

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In my recent work I have been interested in the systems and structures occurring in nature that control and create function as well as beauty within it. The physical laws or rules repeating throughout nature often go unnoticed in lieu of the aesthetic appeal of an object or phenomenon, despite that many of our conceptions of beauty are based in these rules or systems. By exploring areas of intersection between the systems within our own existence and the systems or laws that control the universe at a cosmic level, I am able to fulfill my own longing for connection to the universe as a whole and to make those ideas of extreme scale and unknown closer to our own conceivable reality. My inspiration for Elliptical Interactions comes from the similarity in the shape of orbits of planets and of electrons around a nucleus, making a connection between the cosmos and the physics of our own bodies and experience. The individual pieces are made of cut and frosted Plexiglas, which capture and carry the colored light from below. By using different colors of light I am able to explore viewers’ physiological reaction to each color while broadening the possible compositions in combination with the variety of shapes. By viewing our existence in relation to the rest of the cosmos, I hope to create a sense of connection for the viewer to the universe as our home, but also to create a connection to one another.      ...

A Soft Surplus and Soft Surplus+

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A Soft Surplus was the first collaborative installation by Collective Springboard (Micah Snyder, Stephanie Wadman, Danny Crump, Siavash Tohidi, Todd Irwin, Barry O’Keefe and Sarah Dahlinger). Held at the School of Art+Design’s Ridges graduate studios, the handmade bouncy castle constructed from recycled and found materials imagined the possibility of an inclusive playland. The interactive art installation invited the public to jump inside the soft sculpture and explore their relationship with fun. In conjunction with Athens’ Nuit Blanche Festival, Collective Springboard bounced back with Soft Surplus+. Installed at the busy intersection by Howard park, the sculpture attracted a diverse range of jumpers from families and children to undergrad bar-goers and professional dancers. Soft Surplus+ created a venue where participants embraced their high flying spirit and bounced to the bumping sounds of DJ Charmin (Todd Irwin). Equipment from the Create Space was used for the video documentation and projection in both projects. The GoPro Hero 3 was used to capture video footage while jumping on a trampoline and a pogo stick. Projected using the Short Throw projector in A Soft Surplus and the Ultra Short Throw projector in Soft Surplus+, the projection underscored the fearless, child-like action of jumping and bounced with the viewers as they interacted with the space.   Photo documentation is from Soft Surplus+      ...

Culture Filter 2

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My research is about the Yao people ceremonial collections in Alden Library. I am thinking it is important to let others understand the difference and similarity between the Yao and their own culture. So I made this installation and try to discuss how the culture shapes us. I think all the cultures functionally are the same. The holes on the box represent the physical forces which structure our lives. The projected images on the wall represented the Yao culture. The projected images are composed by the sacred symbols in the Yao people ceremonial collections. The viewers which are my classmates they could learn the ideas through discussing this work.        

Empathic Living for the Couch Potato

By Steph Wadman

Empathic Viewing for the Couch Potato uses a selection of material, food, and video as a means to equate two separate experiences to another, the physical sensation of pressure from a baby. Using two experiences that are relatable to anyone, sit-ups until exhaustion and eating gaseous foods, the viewer is asked to add them in their mind to equate to the experience of a mother. Realizing that this is an approximation, and not an equalization, I aim to invoke empathy through the effort of the audience participating in metaphysical experiences.    

Mother Lode

By Courtney Kessel

“Mother Lode” was a solo exhibition at the David Brooks Gallery at Fairmont State University, September 3 – October 5, 2014. The work in this show highlights the challenges and negotiations between having time for myself and the constant need and interruption of an other. It is a body of work that has emerged from having a 40 + hour a week job and being a full-time mom. Instead of having the ability to be in the studio all the time and producing a body of work, the time spent installing becomes a durational performance or studio practice. A heavily conceptualized idea is prepared and then executed at the site-specific location of the gallery. The “Mother Lode” is the origin of a treasure or vein of ore, something precious. My use of it here indicates both the above meaning and the origin of me as a mother, which is the child. I am also playing with the word “lode” and interchanging it with “load”. The mental and physical space that is devoted to one’s child vastly differs from someone who is not a mother: the breast pumps, diaper bags, extra clothes (both for mother and child), strollers, school bags, lunch boxes, shoes, toys, games, etc. The mental space is consumed with questions, such as: where are they? Are they all right? What time do I need to go and get them? Am I there enough for them? Do I spend enough time with them? And more. The sheer quantity of “stuff” demonstrates the space taken up by being a mother.      ...

A Soft Surplus and Soft Surplus+

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A Soft Surplus was the first collaborative installation by Collective Springboard (Micah Snyder, Stephanie Wadman, Danny Crump, Siavash Tohidi, Todd Irwin, Barry O’Keefe and Sarah Dahlinger). Held at the School of Art+Design’s Ridges graduate studios, the handmade bouncy castle constructed from recycled and found materials imagined the possibility of an inclusive playland. The interactive art installation invited the public to jump inside the soft sculpture and explore their relationship with fun. In conjunction with Athens’ Nuit Blanche Festival, Collective Springboard bounced back with Soft Surplus+. Installed at the busy intersection by Howard park, the sculpture attracted a diverse range of jumpers from families and children to undergrad bar-goers and professional dancers. Soft Surplus+ created a venue where participants embraced their high flying spirit and bounced to the bumping sounds of DJ Charmin (Todd Irwin). Equipment from the Create Space was used for the video documentation and projection in both projects. The GoPro Hero 3 was used to capture video footage while jumping on a trampoline and a pogo stick. Projected using the Short Throw projector in A Soft Surplus and the Ultra Short Throw projector in Soft Surplus+, the projection underscored the fearless, child-like action of jumping and bounced with the viewers as they interacted with the space.      ...

Recreating Robert Rauschenburg’s “Monogram”

By Linda Di Bernardo

The job of the props artisan is to create the objects that enhance the believability of the world of the play. If done well, both the audience and actors willingly allow themselves to be transported and suspension of disbelief can only achieved if the props are accurate and authentic. bobrauschenburgamerica, by Charles Mee was the first show of the 2014-15 season produced by the Ohio University School of Theatre. One of the props called for was a reproduction of a well known sculpture by the artist Robert Rauschenburg called “Monogram”, which depicts a life-size goat with a tire around it’s belly and a face full of paint. This required extensive research into not only accurately depicting a life-size goat, but how to do it both cheaply and efficiently – two other important factors of being a props artisan. For roughly $120, and on a three week time frame, the goat was constructed through a multi-step process from plywood, carved and applied foam, yarn, and sculpted wood....

Cutrual filters

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During my research about the Yao people ceremonial collections, I am thinking it is important to let others understand the difference and similarity between the Yao and their own culture. So I made this installation and try to discuss how the culture shapes us in my sculpture class. I think all the cultures functionally are the same. The cut papers in the middle represented the physical forces which structure our lives. The projected images on the papers and wall represented the ideologies. The projected images are composed by the sacred symbols in the Yao people ceremonial collections. The viewers which are my classmates they could learn the ideas through discussing this work.        

Dump Bucket Aquarium

By Sarah Dahlinger

Dump Bucket Aquarium is a multi-media work in progress that immerses the viewer into the interior of a bar’s drink dump bucket as it fills to the brim. The splashing landscape of fruit garnishes, straws and ice cubes transforms into an underwater oceanic oasis. The video is projected on a shaped projection screen that references an aquarium tunnel. Such architectural innovations enable the magical experience of walking underwater–surrounded by whale bellies and bottom feeders. The attraction and repulsion of the video underscores the duality of indulgence itself as the playful, tranquil, landscape becomes progressively indecipherable and ominous.  

Suspended Communication

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This project, a hanging wood-and-wire sculpture onto which I projected words.  I ideated and constructed it in response to a multifaceted prompt that included demonstrating a concept I had learned, assembling cosmetic features of our pieces–patterns, segments, media, etc.–into groups of three or six. Here, the projector displays a looping .GIF over my structure so that the content of the iMessage-like text bubbles would cycle rapidly through visual examples of communication (e.g. a clipping from an ASL learner’s manual, a video of smoke signals from the Vatican).  

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