Smithson’s art draws crowd, artists to gallery

Jennifer Zemanek

Robert Smithson’s work of art “Partially Buried Shed” drew many people to the School of Art Gallery last night in the Art Building. The interesting aspect about the piece is that it disappeared in 1984 — its existence as a work of art is debated by some.

“Structures of Experience: an exhibition in response to Robert Smithson” displayed works of art by faculty, emeritus faculty, students and alumni in response to Smithson’s work. In 1970, Smithson, an artist-in-residence, and others piled 20 cartloads of dirt on an abandoned woodshed until the center beam cracked. The work of art received much attention.

Scott Sherer, assistant art professor, said he organized the exhibition using different themes from Smithson’s work. He categorized the works by strategies of representation, constructing history, mapping, creating environments, human ecology and material lives.

The exhibition is about how we look and see things, Sherer said. The works are about how we create meaning or representation of everyday things. The works respond to Smithson’s way of thinking, he said.

Senior fine arts major Kate Oulton, who attended the “Partially Buried Woodshed, then and now” panel discussion before viewing the exhibition, said “it is interesting how Smithson’s work doesn’t exist, but now it’s famous.”

The artists’ work were based on Smithson’s views about nature, thought and meaning.

Kelley Furey, sophomore interior design major, said she picked out a favorite piece because it showed Smithson’s ideology best.

Eight Days a Week: There and Back Again by Nadine B. Schreyer was a car’s passenger side panel with plaster on it. Schreyer poured plaster over the paneling and went about her regular activities. The plastered car paneling displayed the effects of nature and everyday occurrences.

According to the profile about the work, it provokes thought about the character of both everyday experiences as well as unique events.

Another part of the exhibition was a wall of history on the ’60s and ’70s.

Sherer said the wall is a mix of history from television, music, May 4, politics, Vietnam, Mick Jagger and music. The wall brings together a local event, like the creating of the woodshed, with a broader context of the world.

Smithson’s concepts attracted many people to view art in a different sense, Sherer said.

“The question was posed at the panel about ‘What is art?’” Oulton said. “Anything can be art.”

Contact fine and professional arts reporter Jennifer Zemanek at [email protected].