It’s countdown time for Emory University’s art faculty and the Visual Arts Gallery. The university will eliminate the department at the end of this school year and repurpose its seven-year-old building to house another department, as yet to be decided.
Cross Reference will mark this unhappy occasion in the best way possible, with an exhibition of work by the departing faculty and that of some alums. They are: faculty members Linda Armstrong, Sarah Emerson, Julia Kjelgaard, Diane Kempler, Kerry Moore and Laura Noel; faculty emeritus Katherine Mitchell; and alumni Dana Haugaard, Joy Drury Cox and Angus Galloway. The opening reception is 5:30 to 8 p.m. February 6 (not the 30th, as previously announced) at the Visual Arts Gallery. It will run through April 5.
Guest curator Rebecca Dimling Cochran approached the exhibition with multiple goals. She wanted to honor the participants, of course. But she also wanted to remind visitors about the visual arts department’s active relationships with disciplines across campus and the importance of art in any institution of higher learning, not only as a discipline but also as a means of engaging and amplifying all manner of ideas.
The wide-ranging references in the work attest to that notion. Fox example, Ruth Dusseault’s video Seven Minute Walden, which pays homage to philosopher Henry David Thoreau, follows individuals who start trying to return to a more natural, self-sufficient state. Angus Galloway’s exploration of psychology is evident in his “right brain/left brain” drawings.
Cochran invited the participants to move beyond the gallery and consider the building as a possible site. As a result, Linda Armstrong’s flags, referencing a form of protest used by Thai monks, will be strung in the trees surrounding the building.
Photographer Laura Noel uses the entire campus as a canvas: she will give away her artwork at various locations and invite the random recipients back to the gallery for an “art swap.” The piece suggests the ways ideas, students and professors intersect, often serendipitously, to create knowledge and community — and the kinds of creative embodiments of ideas that will at the very least diminish with the visual arts department’s demise.