By Maria D’Anselmi
There is a noticeable divide between the students in the Art Village and the rest of campus. To be clear, this division is primarily geographical. However, the University of Dallas Art Association (UDAA) is aiming to spark more excitement about and discussion of art among those outside the Village.
“Our mission is to close the rift between the art majors in the Art Village and the rest of the UD community,” UDAA vice president Monica Kaufman said.
This is no slight endeavor. UDAA was resurrected this semester by undergraduates who sensed that the student body is often not aware of the exciting work that art students create.
“We want to share,” UDAA president Dario Bucheli said. “We want to bring awareness to the students about visual culture and the arts.”
He said he also wants the student body to perceive all the work created by the students in a more positive way. Bucheli says there is the variety of tastes among students, whether these tastes are traditional, representational, abstract or more controversial.
“We want to make sure that people […] know it’s all art nonetheless and all part of a common expression,” Bucheli said. “A lot of times the problem that people see with more contemporary art is that they see it as meaningless, or maybe some people react very negatively, so they just kind of dismiss it and deny its ability to say something significant. That’s kind of what we want to reassert.”
Why are some abstract or contemporary art pieces often treated with doubt, skepticism or even flat-out rejection? UDAA treasurer Caitlin Clay says symbolism and metaphors are constantly debated and discussed by Lit Trad students in class, but art, which requires the same critical thinking, is sometimes ignored.
“A majority of the student body is fairly conservative. They’re very set in their values and morals.” Clay said. “They’re all really smart people which is why I want to open up this discussion, because art requires more [of the] analytical and complex thinking that our student body excels at.”
Art professor Steven Foutch said that there is a lack of dialogue in regards to contemporary art.
“You have to understand its historical context,” Foutch said. “It’s not something that’s started happening last month. This is something that’s been developing for thousands of years.”
“Art Attack Weekend” is a UDAA project where members of the association and volunteers put up a public art installation on campus. A recent installation featured paper planes in the Patrick E. Haggerty Science Building, which were constructed during International Week. Bucheli hopes to move on to Gorman Lecture Center, the Mall and Braniff Graduate Building in the future.
Plans are underway to create an exhibition titled “Framed” at Mokah Coffee Bar in Deep Ellum. Selections from student submissions will be up for auction. The proceeds will go to a charity and the coffee bar.
Freshman art major Brad Cleaver said he is optimistic that UDAA will help improve the image of art students.
“We’re not exactly deemed to be the most successful people,” he said. “[There is] a lack of understanding with the way that art majors work and what they do.”
Cleaver said that this proactive group is the remedy.
“To really bring people to art, you kind of have to bring art to the people,” he said.