Akiko Bremar, Contributing Writer
Last month, artwork by University of Dallas graduate student Maiko Shioda was taken from its exhibit in Gorman Lecture Center.
According to the report filed Nov. 17 with the Office of Campus Safety, Shioda, who hails from Saitama, Japan, stated that she had last checked her art display on Friday, Nov. 16 at 9 p.m.; when she returned the next day, she noticed that nine out of the 31 fabric mice in her display were missing.
Shioda’s entire exhibit, entitled “The Princess Code,” was comprised of several miniature projects. Shioda said that the mice belonged to a part of the project titled “I Know You are Here.” The exhibit also included two drawings, entitled “You” and “Me,” handmade soap, a tray and drawings on another wall titled “The Princess Code.”
“I cannot tell you what the artwork means, because it only means something to me,” Shioda said. “It had to do with my personal life and my own feelings.”
Shioda kept a close watch on her exhibit since it first went on display.
“I do daily checks on my artwork,” Shioda said. “Friday night was the reception for my art exhibit. Everything was fine and in place for that. Then, when I came back on Saturday night, I noticed that nine mice were missing and that the vinyl letters of my title were moved around.”
Shioda went to report the vandalized exhibit and her missing pieces. According to Shioda, during the few minutes that she was gone, someone had moved the big trashcan in Gorman to the center of the exhibit, next to the rest of the mice. The tablecloth from her reception was also taken.
This is not the only vandalism that Shioda’s artwork has experienced. Over the two weeks allotted to her exhibit, explanatory vinyl letters were moved, fabric mice were moved from their positions on the floor to the top of a wreath, the objects that were on the wall were moved around and the handmade soap was removed from its plate. When Shioda was taking her work down on the last day of her exhibit, Nov. 18, she noticed that someone had brushed his or her fingers over her pencil-on-paper-drawings, smudging them.
“Every day that I walked in to check on my artwork, I saw something move,” Shioda said. “I think it was more than one person, because everything was always different.”
Shioda’s exhibit constituted a sort of final exam for her as a graduate student in the art department. A graduate art student spends three semesters working on his Master of Arts degree, and, if he passes his exhibit examination, is allowed to continue working for three more semesters and receive his Master in Fine Arts degree. Shioda, who began at UD in the fall of 2011, will stay in the U.S. for another year and a half in order to complete her MFA before returning to Japan.
Since the fall of 2011, three other graduate students’ exhibits have been tampered with and in some way damaged.
Jeremy Catenacci, a printmaker, found that his framed prints had been taken off the wall. Someone had tried to break the frame to get the artwork inside, but stopped midway and left the shattered frame and artwork behind. Jonnah Krantz, a ceramics artist, had ceramic pieces placed on sand on a pedestal. Students drew inappropriate images in the sand, and left drinks on the stand next to the artwork. Both Catenacci and Krantz displayed their artwork in Gorman.
Another student, Nicholas Cladis, had his artwork displayed in the upper art gallery of the Art Village. His exhibit included a wooden box containing little handmade objects hung up on the wall. During his showcase, someone took the pieces, and then left his box on the floor, upside down.
“The art community feels disconnected from everyone else,” said Rebecca Prince, art department administrative assistant. “It is probably because not too many people associate with the art department that they do not appreciate the work that is put in. When someone defaces something, it is a personal attack on the artist.”
Prince believes that through art education, people will come to have a greater appreciation for not only the art, but the time and effort put into the creations.
“I believe that the more people know about art, the more they can truly appreciate it,” she said. “Those who work hard deserve credit and recognition for their finished product. This is about giving proper respect. It just isn’t nice to ruin someone’s hard work. It isn’t fair, and it just isn’t right.”
Flyers have been posted around campus asking students for any information about the missing art pieces, and there are many people who want to help out. However, CSO has no lead at this time. Regarding future art exhibits, CSO spoke with art department chairman Dan Hammett and is considering placing cameras in areas that are used for art exhibitions.
“It is difficult to keep track of everything when it is not tied down or when it is not behind locked doors,” CSO Captain Charles Steadman said. “This is not the first time that a theft has occurred – there have been 17 [thefts] in the calendar year of 2012 – but this is the first artwork that has been stolen. Gorman is a difficult situation because it is open 24/7 for everyone. Usually this is about kids pulling pranks because they think they are being funny; usually artwork is moved around, and we eventually find it. This is the first time that something has gone missing, and permanently too.”
“I am hoping that an announcement will be made to the school about this, and that more people know what happened,” Shioda said. “It is a shame because students at the university level should not do things like this. This isn’t just about my work. This is about everyone’s work. I don’t want anything like this to happen again. I don’t want other people to feel hurt like I do right now.”
Shioda’s case is open at the moment and will remain so until evidence is brought to help solve it. If anyone has any information that could help, they should contact CSO.