Brandeis art students’ photography and sculpture explores diverse topics

February 26, 2016

The time to exhibit work crafted by students in sculpture and photography classes has come. The exhibition in the Dreitzer Gallery of Spingold Theater Center is now available Monday through Friday.

The exhibition showcases 3D sculptures, digital photography and other forms of art that express the intellectual curiosity and knowledge that influences, inspires and impassions its creators, many of whom happen to be Brandeis students. When the viewer steps into the gallery, they have to admire the variety and color palette of the different subjects of interest that manifests through the students’ artwork.

A set of photographs taken by various students highlights the idyllic places of Waltham as well as its less inviting areas. One of the photographs, taken by Qianli Zhu ’16, shows an African American man sitting on the steps of what seems to be a public building. He is sleeping and gives the viewer the impression that he is homeless; with his arms crossed, the body language communicates that he is cold and miserable. The photo captures the reality of what virtually every town in this nation deals with: poverty. It is especially important that the image captured an African American living in poverty, as it signifies that it is especially difficult for minorities to find success in American society.

The other photographs represent something distinct about Waltham. Ethan Shi’s photos display nuanced viewpoints, one of which in particular shows the upper sections of two red bookshelves full of colorful books. The photo communicates that humanity’s intellectual discovery and curiosity are wide, broad and do not end at the end of a bookshelf — they continue from there to infinity.

Another addition includes the picture of a rusty and abandoned car in the midst of nature, around Waltham, which was taken by Aviv Glick ’16. Others show Brandeis students walking around Moody Street in Waltham and inside the Los Primos Barbershop on 459 Moody St., owned by Dominican residents, while a student is getting a haircut, all taken by Tristan Ramirez de Haro ’17. In addition, there is a similar photo to Ramirez de Haro’s that shows a man, of advanced age, in a red shirt wearing khaki shorts. In this photo taken by Wenyi Zhang ’16, the man is crossing the street and looking to his right, watching out for cars passing through, also on Moody St. All these pictures yearn to demonstrate and tell how interesting the city of Waltham is. There is a rich history around every corner and street sign; for example, that abandoned, colorless car with no tires may have a compelling story: How did it ever get there in the first place? There is also the evidence of the presence of diversity and uniqueness in the town; when did the first immigrants come to Waltham? From where did they arrive? And what about the life of the man in the red shirt who is crossing the street? These are all interesting questions that images can trigger the viewer to think upon.

Aside from the exhibition of photographs, there was an ingenious presentation of colorful, big-sized and creative cubes with the faces of several controversial figures on them, such as President George W. Bush, drug dealer Pablo Escobar and billionaire and presidential candidate Donald Trump, among others. Every side of the cube had the portrait of the public figure and their faces were filled with different combinations and explosions of colors, implying that behind the countenances of these public figures, there is more than one form of thinking and feeling. In other words, these viewers may feel they know these figures well because they have read or heard details about them, but they are more complex than imagined.

Another subject that is highlighted in this art exhibition is the love of film and comics, which basically signifies humanity’s consumption of popular culture, a big part of nearly everybody’s life. There are a few pieces that display comic characters, film props such as mini Oscar statues and gigantic 3D glasses, all representative of different messages. Some of these pieces may represent the artist’s longings for the future—maybe winning an award? Or the zenith of success?

The exhibition displays the creativity and driving passion that motivated several of the students to craft them. The art pieces also hold different messages; nonetheless, it is a message the viewer must attempt to decipher on their own. The exhibition did more than just display art, forcing its visitors to transform into active viewers. After all, that is what art is all about: finding the true meaning behind it.