WISDOM: Who Are You?

By Kiersten Remster '17

ArtStreet’s most recent installation questions us to think beyond our everyday lives. Titled Wisdom: Who are You?, this new exhibit provokes thoughts of our character, personality and the paths we choose as we stumble down the road of life.

A vision achieved by ArtStreet’s director, Brian LaDuca, Wisdom grasps the concept of “one life.” Created and collaborated by the residents of ArtStreet in the IAN course and detained youth in the Clark County Detention Center, the process sparked creativity that highlights the various stages of life.

Beginning with “Pre-Birth/FATE” and ending with “Death/Wisdom,” each house of ArtStreet worked with a youth from the detention center and a mentor in order to create an artistic piece that challenged and drew upon their assigned topic.

The piece that represents Pre Birth focuses on the question of existing pre-destination and whether or not we are born with an innate spiritual fate. The creators of this installation designed a large egg formed from chicken wire that acted as a shield around a small inner egg incased by a glass case. Within the gaps of the wire, sheets of paper poke in and out of the patterned metal filled with messages of visitors answering the question “is your life predestined?”

Acting as a visual focal point of the room, a lone owl floats above the Pre-Birth egg installation. Connecting the owl and the egg are thin, red strands of tinsel that run through the chicken wire gaps. The red strands run out of the owl’s talons with a shield grasped to symbolize a majestic creature known to protect the dead. For the eyes, the creators decided to use mirrors to emphasize the confrontation of death –that we are all looking death in the “eye” as our own image is seen in front of us.

The owl represents a symbol of wisdom –an icon that is recognized culturally as the protector of the dead. The artists behind this piece decided to include personally written statements by other ArtStreet residents in which they wrote about the concept of legacy and their perspective of death to form the wings of the owl.

One most notable piece, titled “Can I Love? Can I Trust?” targets the vulnerable age group of 18-20 year olds and builds off of the ever present yet hidden definition of love. A large booth that features a painted on carnival curtain concealing darkness behind it is stationed behind a nude, female mannequin. The woman wears a striped bandana covering her eyes, with tears of blood running down her cheeks. With one arm raised in a salute and the other forming a gesture to stop, a sign attached to her encourages visitors to enter the booth and to bring a stranger or friend. Two people then enter either side of the booth with a wall separating them. A glass window allows for each visitor to see the other, while a black curtain encloses the space behind him or her. A series of questions instructed to ask the opposite appears as a script style interview. The questions drive straight to the core of unmasking a person’s authentic set of emotions and character. Ranging from “What is the most cruel thing you have done” to “What has changed your heart for the worse,” these questions beckon the virtues and past of those who seek to confront the uncomfortable and discover a deeper truth.

At this ripe age, early adults are peaking at a vulnerable point in their lives. Still challenged with answering the question of who you are, we struggle to answer the questions that sound to be the simplest.

Swing by ArtStreet’s Wisdom: Who Are You?, open now until April 30th in the White Box Gallery. For more information, visit udayton.edu/artstreet/gallery or read the press release

Kiersten Remster is a sophomore Art History and German student at University of Dayton. 

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