by: William Burleigh ’19 A&E Staff
Providence College-Galleries’ current fall exhibition, which opened on Sept. 12, has been available to the public for several weeks now. Titled “Classic Beauty: 21st-Century Artists on Ancient [Greek] Form,” the group exhibition examines the ongoing influences that ancient, antique, and classical styles have on the mindsets and work of contemporary artists. The artwork of the exhibition, which was curated by PC-Galleries Director Jamilee Lacy, which can be viewed in the Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery at Hunt-Cavanagh Hall and the Reilly Gallery at the Smith Center for the Arts, consists of pieces by local, national, and international professional artists.
One of the artistic goals of “Classic Beauty” is to establish the visual traditions of ancient Greek styles as a fluid and constantly-evolving medium, in order to glean further insight into the history and evolution of its forms. The exhibition’s various pieces—which include architectural objects, collages, ceramics, drawings, paintings, sculptures, and installations—classify as modern art, but they were produced in a style reminiscent of the ancient Greek form, with themes of antiquity in mind. This method of deconstructing the tropes of Greek art, while imbuing it with a modern twist, makes for an exhibition filled with intriguing and thought-provoking pieces.
The second, but equally important, goal of the “Classic Beauty” exhibition is to examine where the ancient Greek form descends and takes its influences from. Contrary to common historical beliefs which purport that the ancient Greeks gave way to the art of Western civilization, many of the styles and techniques employed by the Greeks were actually adapted from non-Western cultures of the Near East, Northern Africa, and East Asia, as detailed by the research of art historians and archaeologists. By exploring this complex theme, the multi-layered projects of the “Classic Beauty” exhibition challenge the traditional idea of ancient Greek art as being iconic in its originality and debates the visual legacy of Western civilization as a whole. Consequently, perhaps it can be said that the most important goal of PC-Galleries’ “Classic Beauty” exhibition is to examine how artists throughout history have appropriated and manipulated the styles of antiquity.
The artists of the exhibition include Robert Andrade, Daniel Baird, Lakela Brown, Matthew Craven, Vivian Greven, Molly Kaderka, Lucy Kim, Kirstin Lamb, Shari Mendelson, David Ross Harper, and Ruby Sky Stiler.
To provide further insight into the creative process behind the current exhibition, PC-Galleries has been hosting mini-symposia, open to the public, throughout the semester. These events include dialogues on the pieces by the artists themselves and PC scholars familiar with the work. Question-and-answer sessions follow, in which students can engage with the artists to learn more about the pieces and their creative path to fruition.
PC-Galleries is hosting the third and final of its three mini-symposia on Wednesday, November 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., in the Smith Center for the Arts. Artists Kim, Mendelson, and Stiler will all be present to discuss their work and engage in dialogue with guests. The exhibition is open in the Smith Center for the Arts until Nov. 17.