By MONICA MODY, writer and first-year PhD student in the East-West Psychology program. Monica assists at events and in the office at the Department of Writing, Consciousness, and Creative Inquiry.
The current exhibition of visual work and poetry displayed at the all-new CIIS Student Gallery is inspired by the question, “What is uniquely human?” The exhibition presents work by both students and alumni of CIIS, who inquire into the thematic question using a range of artistic practices.
The theme for the exhibition holds particular relevance for the CIIS community, engaged as it is in transformative practices that redefine what it is to be human and what it is to be in community—as humans—with other humans and non-humans.
“The CIIS community is grounded in the transformation of consciousness, healing, and deep emotional engagement: the show offers a mirror through which the university can see its preoccupations reflected back at itself,” says Jenelle Campion, who co-curated the exhibition with Daunielle Rasmussen. Campion and Rasmussen are both in their second year of MFA programs at the Department of Writing, Consciousness, and Creative Inquiry.
The show features works in mixed media, acrylic, and oil; pencil portraits; photographs; and poems. Together, these artworks are acute explorations of suffering and compassion, the emotion of happiness, religious and spiritual conflicts, what it means to be transgressive, the witnessing self, alter-selves, and relationships—including to plant forms and animal forms.
“The entries radiate with the heart the artists put in their work,” says Campion, adding that the curators were gratified by the student-body’s response to the call for submissions and the conviction in art-making it demonstrates. By inviting art that was not made only inside the MFA enclosure, their curatorial process turned the show into an investigation into why we make art and a call to widen our conception of art communities. “We wanted to challenge the image of the artist sitting in the dark hovel of art-making,” stresses Campion.
Certainly, the art hung in the second floor hallway in the CIIS Main Building evokes a sense of constellation and fellowship; it is an important step toward student participation in defining the institution and community that is CIIS. The show allows the artists to stake a claim, a space, in this institution and community. Strategically, Campion and Rasmussen set up a Scribble Wall for three weeks before the exhibition to let the student body get used to the space and to the idea that the space belonged to the students: to art.
The exhibition is the first group student show at CIIS and runs until the semester’s end; each semester, there will be a new show or two. In the Spring, keep your eyes open for a show by the Expressive Arts Therapy students and an MFA works-in-progress show.
Also stop by the second floor student’s lounge to view work by the second year MFA Creative Inquiry students.