Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

SMC Art Gallery spotlights collection curation

09/14/2018 - 3pm
Even discards contain arresting images

Niles graphic design major Mckenzie Fletcher was startled to recognize an outtake of her work hanging in Southwestern Michigan College’s art gallery for “Institutional Memory.”

Fletcher’s work is part of the gallery’s first fall exhibit, shown until Sept. 27, using selections from SMC’s permanent collection to explore how such a collection develops and what its curation entails.

Institutional Memory also illuminates the adage, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure,” because Marc Dombrosky, Department of Visual and Performing Arts chairman and curator of SMC’s collection, saw artistic merit others missed. So did SMC alumnus Tim Tinker, whose 2017 “New Print” is recalled.

While some works can appear incomplete, they still present arresting images. One set of images on one wall “are literally the 3D design classes’ trash, though so many people have come in and said these over-sprays from spray-painting parts and pieces are awesome,” said student gallery assistant Faith White of Niles. “It’s all about the context of being in the gallery and how they’re displayed.”

White helped create Halo’s Master Chief from computer monitor backs as part of SMC students creating art by cannibalizing obsolete computer equipment under the leadership of Shannon Eakins, art faculty member.

Their recycled video game timeline, enshrined in the Barbara Wood Building computer lab May 1, includes Pac-Man chasing a Ghost made from 1,035 keyboard keys painted yellow, Link from Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda and a wolf medallion with disc eyes worn as a necklace by protagonist Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher fantasy novels.

Another intriguing item alongside Alfredo the cat sculpture and a glazed ceramic skull is a vitrine holding an 8 GB flash drive. It contains audio files of the last art history lectures Professor Emeritus Terry Pfliger delivered before his June 9, 2016, death at 68.

Video in the rear gallery harkens back to October 2014, when SMC featured Boston-based Thomas Willis and Chicago’s Patrick “Q” Quilao.

Works on display will be exchanged throughout the run, creating new relationships and developing an extended network of associations. “The hope is that fluctuating relationships grow and change,” Dombrosky said, “whether migrating these around or bringing in new works and taking others out.”

A wall of “condition reports” documenting the collection’s permanent record can be reviewed.

The gallery in room 108 of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Thursday.

Fall’s schedule continues Oct. 1-Nov. 1 with the interactive multi-media “The Kids’ Table” by Fun Squad, a Benton Harbor artist collective. Visitors can unleash their inner children by coloring, exploring and creating at a large collaborative table. A free public reception takes place Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 12:30 p.m.

The faculty exhibition is scheduled Nov. 7-Dec. 6, with a reception Thursday, Nov. 15, at 12:30 p.m.

The final scheduled event in the art gallery will feature SMC Honors Program students presenting their semester-long individual research projects in a conversational public forum Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 12:30 p.m.