Supported by a pair of new Sam Fox School grants, graduate art students are pursuing collaborative projects that engage members of Washington University and the greater St. Louis community.
At the start of the Spring 2011 semester, the School awarded the Collaborative Technology Center and Creative Research Institute Grant to Amanda Bowles and Whitney Wood, both MFA11, and the Production Grant to Andrew Woodard, MFA12. Each grant provided $750 to fund the students' creative endeavors, with work culminating in May 2011.
Working in collaboration with Nathaniel Elberfeld, MArch13, Bowles and Wood have developed Agony + XTC, a site-specific installation exploring the concept of the "ecstatic" as the intersection between Rave and Religion.
"Both religious and rave cultures produce seekers: those in search of euphoric bliss," the artists note. "We are creating an immersive environment capturing both the sensual and the spiritual. Viewers are invited to enter, experience, and ingest the work."
One of the stipulations of the grant required Bowles, Wood, and Elberfeld to use digital media as a tool for advancing their work. The trio employed coding software to generate and distort complex patterns at a large scale as part of their installation, in addition to incorporating video projections, animation, and sound.
The one-night opening for this installation takes place from 8-11p, June 3, at the Spring Avenue Church ruins, 688 North Spring Avenue. In the event of rain, the opening will take place from 8-11p, June 4.
For the Production Grant, Woodard didn't need to look far for inspiration. A resident of St. Louis' Forest Park Southeast neighborhood, he learned about community organizer Julie Birkenmaier's efforts to develop a new community garden so fellow community members would have the opportunity to grow their own food.
To bring greater attention to the endeavor, Woodard is collaborating with Birkenmaier to produce a permanent sculpture for the garden. He is using materials rooted in the urban fabric surrounding the garden, such as concrete, steel, and wool, to create the sculptural work, with the goal of facilitating a dialogue among community members about the presence of art and sustainable practices within city borders.
"I feel strongly that art in the public should stimulate, inform, and heighten the experiences of those around it," Woodard says. "I hope that through this project, I will create lasting relationships with fellow community members and assist in making my community’s garden a symbolic space."