For Delivering the Goods, SoVA MFA candidates were allowed to use any media and treat any subject matter they desired, as long as it fit within a pre-paid U.S. Postal Service mailing box. The exhibition was on display at the Kauffman Gallery, Shippensburg University, October through November 2013. As a result of the exhibition, SoVA students issued a challenge to the Shippensburg students to continue the project and to create their versions of ‘thinking inside the box.’ An exhibition featuring the work of SoVA students and Shippensburg students is scheduled for February 2014 at the Penn State Borland Gallery.
Participating artists included: Cassandra Berringer, Apolinar Concepcion Jr, Charles Cunningham, Dengke Chen, Sidney Church, Bech Evans, Negar Fadaeidehkordi, Farima Fooladi, Katie Hovencamp, Jennifer Kirkpatrick, Roberto Lugo, Chuck Mankey, Kevin Mercer, Brooks Oliver, Steven J Read, Sarah Swist, Eric Thornton, Evan West, Kelly Wilton.
Below Aaron Ziolkowski, PhD Candidate in Art History, discusses the exhibition:
There is a commonly held belief about art, especially by those outside the art world, that it is an arena without restrictions; that true expression is only possible when people are free to do as they please. We mythologize the creative process, seeing it as analogous to personal freedom. When restrictions are placed upon art, it makes us uneasy. Restrictions appear as obstacles to expression, or worse yet, they seem to represent the forceful grafting of an ideology upon the work. Yet, if we look to the history of art, this notion of creativity and individualism tangibly manifest in a relatively new construction. Artists almost always worked on commission and were instructed as to the use of particular materials and subject matter. It can be argued that these restrictions were beneficial, allowing artists to channel their creativity in a more pointed manner and distinguish themselves in their clever inflection of familiar tropes.
A university fine arts program serves two purposes. It provides young artists a space to learn and develop their work in an environment that is stimulating but also removed from the pressures and restrictions of the outside world. At the same time, the program prepares students to leave the nurturing shelter of the university and be successful as working artists, a career that requires perseverance as much as accommodating one’s work to the restrictions and needs of others. It is in light of this dual purpose that Delivering the Goods was created. MFA students were allowed to use any media and treat any subject matter they desired, as long as it fit within a pre-paid U.S. Postal Service mailing box. This simple restriction forced the artists to consider how their vision and style could be expressed in miniature, at a time when the opportunities, space and readily available materials of an MFA program compel them to create works operatic in scale. The show can also be viewed as a dry run of life as a working artist, where they have to get their work completed, shipped and installed on time and under budget. The breadth of talent and range of art making on display at Shippensburg University prove that even when forced to restrict the size of their work, Penn State students can deliver the goods.
Steven Read (MFA): The project was a chance, under more restrictions, to push back, and explore the world and our artistic ideas through the space provided in a small, humble box. This event allows us the chance to grapple with the realities of working as a professional artist to figure out how to present ourselves to the world.