From the start of spring semester, more than 300 St. John’s students in Queens and abroad have participated in a globally-performed art collaboration called “do it.”
This exhibition originated from Hans Ulrich Obrist, a London-based art curator, critic and historian. He launched the program in Paris in 1993 and was inspired by cubist painter Marcel Duchamp. The idea behind the project is to have audiences create based on an artist’s instructions.
St. John’s has interpreted the project in its own way and 12 classes within the departments of Art and Design, History, English and the Institute for Core Studies have partaken with their own creative submissions.
A geography class used Google Earth to collect and print street names from their home towns; a Discover New York class presented a series of letters written in the voices of early settlers in New York City; and a “Global Love” poetry reading took place on Valentine’s Day, according to the Office of Marketing and Communications.
“The group exhibition DO IT! was a great chance to get a taste of the contemporary art happening around the world,” said Yulia Tikhonova, the director of the Dr. M. T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery.
“Contemporary art is a global phenomena. In Rome, London or Paris, you will see artists working on the streets, and at cafes, in museums and in galleries. As you travel you will acquire knowledge about the key players of the global art market, and you will discover that there are many themes common to the global art scene,” Tikhonova added.
Tikhonova described a bit of the history behind the project, starting with artistic trends in the 1960s by a group of NYC based international artists, composers, designers and poets who called themselves Fluxus.
“They were considered the most radical and experimental art movement at that time and influenced many generations of artists to follow,” she said. “Fluxus founder, George Maciunas was born in Lithuania, and was hanging out in New York City with other international artists who wanted to produce art more in the spirit of games shared by groups of people. They wanted everyone to: produce art all the time and have fun doing it. These artists rebelled against the cultural tendencies prevailing at that time.”
“Fluxus artists did not agree with the authority of museums to determine the value of art, nor did they believe that one must be an artist to make art. They created a set of fun and easy to follow instructions and prompts, such as ‘doodle’ or ‘dance with a piece of chalk’ or “smile at a stranger,’” Tikhonova said. “These instructions were available at SJU Art Gallery and everybody was given an opportunity to interpret and respond to them. DO IT! was without a doubt a widely share, fun exhibition.”
Tikhonova concluded, “The lesson learned: Everyone can make art and engage in the global experience.”
Freshman Graphic Design major Jenna Woo and freshman Illustration major Emily Guevara describes their graphic design class’ project “Queens is a Remix!”
“The objective of our project was to photograph the borough of Queens reflecting the diversity of individuals with the different cultures that all peacefully coexist together. You can say we were each given the mission of attempting to capture the theme of the project, as we divided up and ventured out with our cameras to all different parts of Queens,” Woo said.
Guevara said, “It was kind of like a scavenger hunt because there were some themes she [Professor Liz Deluna] wanted us to find and photograph, so like textures, colors, the letter x , the letter Q, cool architecture, menus/flyers we thought were cool and a few other things. Then we all kind of voted for the photos we wanted to be included in the collage and we assembled it in a way that imitates bricks.”
Guevara thought the project was not only creative, but a fun way to get out of the usual routine of a computer classroom setting.
“I think the project was cool it kind of made a lot of step out of our comfort zone because we had to search around queens and for some of us we had little to no clue about certain areas of queens that we were going to. Like for me I hardly ever hang around Flushing so it was pretty cool to go and explore the area,” she said.
Woo adds, however, that having fun comes with hard work.
“It was an intensive three hours of hanging and rehanging, cutting and taping, and shifting all of our pictures, making sure each photograph was placed just right to satisfy our collective group. All of which had to be completed before class was over. We worked hard, and completed the project as a team,” Woo said.
The submissions for the global art gallery were on display at the Yeh Art Gallery up until March 3.