Visual Dilemmas

As college students, we face a lot of dilemmas throughout the year. What art classes should I take? Should I study for my test or take a nap? How will I pay back this student loan? Some dilemmas are more serious than others, and some are simple decisions like what kind of cream cheese to get on your bagel at the Learning Commons.

Yes, we face dilemmas as students. But do we face them as viewers of art?

According to art therapy Professor Stephanie Wise, we most certainly do. Each year, she teams up with curator Bob Schweitzer to create an exhibit in the Maslow Gallery of works that can be linked to a certain feeling/theme for her students to study. This year’s theme is “dilemma,” and Bob was able to pick pieces from the Maslow Collection that seemed to relate to the theme.

Included in the exhibit are works by Edward Henderson, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Hamish Fulton, Robert Cumming, David Reed, and Sandy Skoglund. As of writing this post, the show is still up on display and available to view during regular gallery hours.

My favorite pieces came from Sandy Skoglund, who did Something on the Wall and The Laws of Interior Design both in 1986. Both are brightly colored paintings derived from photo collages that include people in office and city settings.

So how does this depict dilemma? Skoglund painted each collage element in a very bright color, and some are more in the foreground than others. The way she painted and positioned each element is so the viewer has a tough time deciding what to look at. The large face in the foreground might have the most emphasis because it is so big, but the blue chair might have the most emphasis because of its bright color. Decisions, decisions…

If you get the chance, stop by the Maslow Collection and see all the visual dilemmas for yourself. They might not be obvious at first, but that is a whole other dilemma in itself for you to figure out.

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