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Artwork provides social commentary in “Crafting Resistance”

Visual Arts Center Director Kirsten Furlong finds that political and social tensions naturally lend themselves to be the inspiration for great art. That’s why she organized the VAC’s newest exhibit, Crafting Resistance, which opened on Jan. 26. and remains open until March 28. The exhibit’s theme surrounds an array of social issues  that dominate the political atmosphere, including race, social justice, environmental awareness, equal rights and human rights.

20 artists from the U.S., Canada and Mexico were selected by Furlong to be part of the exhibition, and their mediums vary from ceramics to wood and printmaking.

“I had a lot of people really interested. It was just the right moment to have a show like this because people are just really in the mood since the election,” Furlong said.

All mediums used in the 20 pieces are considered “crafts.” Furlong said the process of researching the artists, selecting their work and having it shipped to Boise State and installed took a couple of months, but the work paid off.

“We had a good turnout for the opening reception. Since then we’ve had various classes and lots of art students and people on campus that are interested in art,” Furlong said.

Next to each piece is an artist’s statement about what their submission’s message is. Artist Gregory Climer’s submission, titled “Factory Collapse at Rana Plaza” uses out-of-focus imagery sewn into quilt patchwork to depict the April 23, 2013 collapse of the sweatshop in Bangladesh that killed nearly 1,200 employees. Climer wrote that although consumers see disasters like this in the news and know that a large portion of their garments are made in similar conditions, they do little to alter their shopping habits.

“The work is designed to be both viewed on screen and in the real world. By creating work that comes into focus on the screen and using a combination of traditional and new techniques, I am exploring the perception on multiple levels and our ability to disconnect from the world around us,” Climer said.

“I noticed a lot of people spending a lot of time looking at it, and I think the message behind this piece is very powerful, but it’s also just understanding the bigger ideas behind the show,” Furlong said.

Another artist, Io Palmer, submitted two racks of wire hangers holding two dimensional blots of paint. The piece, “97 Spills” is environmentally oriented, with each blot representing the shape of the growing BP oil spill from an aerial perspective.

“By borrowing from events in society that symbolize our collective fractures and class disparities, this work reflects and interprets the manifestation of societal excesses within today’s highly competitive capitalistic society,” Palmer said in her artist’s statement.

Students interested in seeing Crafting Resistance can do so by visiting Gallery 1 in the Visual Arts Center located in the Liberal Arts Building.