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​DECLARATIONS: OUR MESSAGE TO THE WORLD at COD’s Marks Art Center: October 7 - 31, 2013

 

College of the Desert’s Marks Art Center presents a collaborative student exhibition of photography and mixed media works entitled "Declarations: Our Messages to the World," October 7 - 31, 2013.  An artists’ reception will be held Wednesday, October 16, from 5:00-7:00 p.m.; free and open to the public, the reception will also feature a do-it-yourself craft table provided by The Coachella Valley Art Scene, light refreshments, and musical entertainment by Las Feas, a local all-girl surf-punk band.  The reception will be followed by the monthly Cup of Happy Open Mic, 7:30-9:30 p.m., a SafeHouse of the Desert event that is also free and open to the public.  Alongside "Declarations," the COD Alumni Gallery within the Marks Art Center will feature a selection of contemporary vanitas works by current students, artworks that explore the fleeting nature of earthly life and happiness, investigating the idea that, in the end, “all is vanity.”

Declarations" is an opportunity for community engagement and meaningful communication, intended by the students as a forum for call and response, and visitors are invited to add their own “declaration” to the community wall in the exhibition space.  The exhibition is the extraordinary product of a unique opportunity in which students had to collaborate and work together in order to conceive, execute, and install an exhibit in a short period of time and with limited resources.  From brainstorming about a concept to producing and installing the artwork, this creative exercise in cooperation and compromise unified a group of diverse individuals around a shared vision of expression.  The proposition: if given one simple piece of cardboard to communicate a message to the world, what would that message be?

Each answered the call in radically different ways: personal poetry, inspirational passages, reflections on aesthetics and history.  Using recycled cardboard—a disposable material used for the roadside statements of the unemployed and disenfranchised—each student produced a personal visual message that transforms this iconography of desperation into a declaration of values, some humorous, some serious, all meaningful.  The tactile immediacy of the cardboard is tantalizing, raising questions about social status and our visual environment.  We are confronted daily by a barrage of visual noise filled with advertising and a slogan competing for our attention; but a hand-lettered cardboard sign has the potential to cut through the clutter, at least momentarily.  The cardboard sign may be the most accessible means of public expression, but is also vulnerable to the elements, physical and social, that render it fleeting.  This ephemeral quality creates a provocative tension with the intentions of the artists here—these students want to make their voices heard and their messages last, through interaction with viewers who witness the powerful individual portraits in the exhibition and who are influenced by the written words.  Carefully composed photographs capture each sign, held by its creator, declaring: here I am, this is my statement to the world.  Visitors can study the messages individually or consider them as a whole, and respond in kind.  An essential component of the exhibition is the opportunity for interaction—each visitor is invited to speak back, to add his/her own declaration to the display using supplies provided by the students. The Marks Art Center is always free and open to the public, Monday-Thursday, 11:00-4:00 p.m., and by appointment; for more information, please call (760) 776-7278, or check online at www.collegeofthedesert.edu/community/gallery or http://www.facebook.com/marks.artcenter">www.facebook.com/marks.artcenter>.