Yesterday I paid a visit to the ASU Art Museum. I’d been reading about Gregory Sale’s social studies project, IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE.
Gregory shared with me, on a Saturday morning (after yoga practice), months and months ago, bits of this Social Studies project. Back then he was in the midst of developing the four-month residency. He explained he was looking at our current prison system and questioning our ideas of incarceration. I quickly jumped to the topic of Joe Arpaio. Though Arpaio and Tent City would be included, after more discussion, I realized Gregory was talking about something bigger than just the sheriff. He had lots more brewing. He talked about creating community activities, informative and interactive elements that would support looking at and evaluating our current prison systems. At the time he wasn’t sure how it would all play out. But I could feel his excitement and sense his focus. He thoughtfully answered every question I asked. I found the conversation provocative.
Today I went into his space at the museum. I walked into a room with identifiable black and white horizontal prison-wear stripes painted on what would normally be white walls. Work tables lined a few walls. In the middle of the room was a ripped apart, sheet rock wall (on a dolly) covered with colorful writing, scribbles, and drawings. I knew there was a wall that had been taken down so I assumed this was it.
I wondered off and returned about 30 minutes later to find a woman sitting on the floor in front of the pile.
She was intently scribbling something on a thick glove. Glancing to the broken wall, she’d read, and then go back to writing on the glove.
When I mentioned to Gregory a few weeks ago, that I was going to go visit the space, he said…Oh, you won’t find anything there. It will be like an empty classroom. I understood. This was not a traditional gallery presentation, because during the course of the residency various activities were scheduled for visitors to observe and/or participate in.
But yet when I stood there with no real scheduled event occurring, it was…like a regular exhibition space in that it was a room potent with (visual) signs of activity, that incited curiosity.
The project comes to an end on May 14th. You can read/reread all about Sale’s four months residency, It’s not just black and white, Social Studies #6 Project, on the ASU museum blog. Site includes final weeks events.
It’s not just black and white. Gregory Sale/Social-Studies-Project-6.
Also currently on exhibit, and running through June 11th is [Antoni] Muntadas / About Academia. This installation is exciting in that it’s written text (quotes and definitions) on one screen, and spoken word (interviews) on another, and a third screen of images (educational facility), each projected largely, side by side and all running simultaneous….whew…say that three times.
The dark room, the large bright screens, and the sound catch my immediate attention. I sit and listen as artist Muntada presents an eloquent examination of our current university system and ideas on academia. I find the topic and the set up fascinating. I read definitions and quotes, watch and listen to interviews, and make connections to running photos…it works, strong and clear.
A large group of high school kids enter the gallery. And I appreciate that moment as well.
The art museum, an active and changing thing, and like our world, it’s full of variety and quite grand.