The Rose Art Museum is Brandeis’ equivalent of Narnia’s wardrobe. It is a largely unappreciated resource, known as little more than a building on one half of campus as the wardrobe was considered little more than a convenient piece of furniture to hang coats. Only the truly curious would venture to look inside the wardrobe to discover it’s hidden secrets, and it appears that the same is applicable to Brandeis’ student body; very few dare to go through the trouble to explore the Rose. Although it is entirely possible to spend a weekend touring Boston’s various art galleries such as the famed Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) or the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, there’s something to be said about Brandeis’ own that is also worth a perusal. Sometimes there are treasures in our own backyard so we don’t have to venture far to find wondrous things.
The Rose will showcase several new exhibitions this September, one of which is titled “The Brood,” a more feminist collection of artwork. Created by artist Lisa Yuskavage, the exhibition displays 25 years worth of originality in imaginative and very visually complex oil painting. Yuskavage’s work challenges social conventions about the female anatomy and largely works to empower and raise questions about how women view themselves in the framework of their society. “The Brood” is Yuskavage’s first solo museum exhibition in over a decade in the United States, and is not so much just a collection of her work over the last quarter century and more of a timeline streamlining her evolution as an artist as she honed her skills and developed her own voice through her work. Her oil paintings are incredibly thought provoking and completely capable of intrigue. An altogether remarkable exhibit, her work incorporates brilliant color, sharp detail and figures whose relationship with the viewer is all the more necessary in this new wave of feminism.
“’60s Pop From Both Coasts,” as denoted from the title, will showcase masterful and rather iconic ’60s pop art. Both west coast- and east coast-based artists will be featured alongside each other, and include more well-known and obscure works by Roy Rosenquist, Marisol Escobar, Andy Warhol and Judy Chicago, among others. Considering that the ’60s predated the vast globalization that we are so familiar with today, the art featured in this exhibition was chosen to increase awareness of lesser-known work. Sam Hunter, the Rose’s founding director, paid special note to artists who were overlooked during this time based on their rather remote locality and not their talent.
The Foster Stairwell mural by Joyce Pensato calls upon viewers to rediscover infamous American cartoons as they are redrawn with an altered psychological state, and the darker side of our favorite childhood cartoon characters comes out. Pensato said the following in regards to her work: “Yes, it looks like Mickey Mouse or Felix the Cat, but I want to make it my own … take it apart and put it back together with my own voice.” Using 1Shot enamel paint in all of her work, Pensato depicts well-known cartoons using varied lines that force us to reevaluate happy-go-lucky characters. For example, Pensato’s portrayal of Felix the Cat is gloomy, even haunting, as his eyes are intensely emphasized with thick, haphazard strokes. Her work showcases the perfect blending of the abstract and pop illustration, resulting in wholly original and almost unsettling creative pieces.
Other upcoming art exhibits include “The Undisciplined Collector,” a video by Nira Pereg and “Multiple Deviations.” These exhibitions include sculpture, video and other varied media. Most excitingly, “Mark Dion: The Undisciplined Collector” reflects on the Rose Art Museum’s opening and surveys Brandeis’ special collections and includes items from Brandeis University Library’s Special Collections, the Classical Artifact Research Collection and the Department of Anthropology’s Study Collection, as well as Brandeis Athletics’ collection of trophies.
No matter the exhibit, the Rose welcomes a plethora of new exhibits that will be shown from Sept. 13 through to Dec. 13. Though many students complain that there’s nothing to do on campus, the truth is that the Rose, despite its small size, is chock full of memorable, groundbreaking and otherwise engaging art that would titillate any art lover. Do yourself a favor and check out the Rose when you get a chance, because sometimes the most inspirational things are right in front of you, and you only have to open your eyes to see.