Visiting artist tells students how to sculpt the modern age

Brittany Rees

Do you need a certain material for something to be art? This was a question that Dutch artist Rachel de Joode challenged her audience with Friday afternoon during the School of Art visiting artist lecture series.

“A lot of the way we view art is as a photograph, on the Internet or in a book,” de Joode, whose work combines digital media and 3-D space, said. “I like to play with the idea of that.”

De Joode addressed her audience in auditorium of the Art Building at noon as part of the School of Art’s “Third Friday” series.

“I really like the debate of whether or not this is art,” de Joode said. “Are you viewing art? Do you need the materiality of bronze or clay to experience a bronze or clay sculpture?”

During the presentation, de Joode showed her audience photographs of her work, much of which included manipulated photographs of clay or her skin presented on pedestals as if they were sculpted.

“I create sculpture with Photoshop,” de Joode said. “I work in media I can’t showcase in sculpture. Wet clay dries. Tears dry.”

Of the manipulated photographs de Joode showed the room were “Tears” and “Color of Me.” Both were self-portraits; the first was a close-up photograph of de Joode’s tears, and the latter was a combination of hundreds of photographs of de Joode’s skin to create the “color” of her body.

Besides photography, de Joode also showed the audience her work with performance art and sculpture.

“My work jumps a lot between photography, performance and sculpture,” she said. “It’s a whole lot of everything.”

About a dozen pieces of de Joode’s work were presented. Two were sculptures of pizza and three depicted de Joode’s interactions with the Internet.

Students at the event said much of her work resonated with them.

“Her art relates a lot with the idea of college,” said senior fine arts major Nick Brown. “It’s all about exploring the human body, pizza and the Internet.”

De Joode said she has presented her work at galleries in Belgium, Panama and Paris.

“It’s especially interesting having her here because Rachel is not an American,” said Paul O’Keeffe, a professor of art at Kent State. “She doesn’t have an American background in how she creates and perceives art.”

De Joode acknowledged her accent during her lecture.

“I am not a ‘TED Talk,’” de Joode said. “I’m very hard to understand.”

The next guest lecture in the School of Art will be from performance artist Nick Cave on Nov. 20 as part of the Thomas Schroth Visiting Artist Series. Cave’s lecture will be held in Cartwright Hall at 7 p.m. and is free for students.

Contact Brittany Rees at [email protected].