'YouToo' can be an innovative artist at ArtLab

Latest exhibit allows students to socialize while creating art

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

YouToo display

Justin Wu

Perhaps you are incapable of drawing anything more complex than a stick figure. Many of us here at The Gazette feel the same way. Despite our artistic shortcomings, however, this week everyone has the chance to sign their name to an original work of art.

A group of third-year art students is inviting the community to help participate in the innovative exhibit ‘YouToo.’

As part of its gallery practices class, the group of visual art students is showcasing artistic homage to a wide range of modern artists, including renowned graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and feminist troupe the Guerilla Girls. But the creative process doesn’t end there; everyone is encouraged to pick up a marker or crayon and help draw on three large panels.

The exhibit, on display in the John Labatt Visual Art Centre’s ArtLab, aims to give onlookers a more active role in the creative process.

“Our goal was to pay homage to artists, such as Piero Manzoni and Paul Butler, who classically incorporate the viewer into their art,” Christine Moore, a student in the gallery practices class, explains. “It really depends on the viewers who will attend and participate by leaving their mark in the gallery.”

With an added twist, the exhibit kicked off last Thursday with a live DJ, cash bar and free food. While some attendees chose to sit, eat and doodle, others engaged in more zany antics like face-painting or wearing gorilla masks.

Corey Crawford, a first-year social justice and peace studies student, was happy to participate in the artistic collaboration. “It’s all in good fun,” he says.

Crawford eagerly commented on the exhibit’s social qualities: “It’s really nice how art has become life, and life has become art. I mean, this is life " people are doing this instead of going out for coffee.”

With drinks in several viewers’ hands, ‘YouToo’s’ kick-off became more of a quirky mixer rather than an art exhibit. “I found the interactions between people to be the most interesting aspect of the opening night,” Moore observes.

Beyond the exhibit’s social niceties, student artist Anthony Smerek said ‘YouToo’ serves to critique the traditional relationship between artists and viewers.

“It’s taking away the pedigree of the artist,” he says. “Rather than having a gallery dictate what culture is to the public, the public can decide what’s culturally significant.”

“We’re reinforcing the notion that art is a representation of the community,” Moore adds.

‘YouToo’ is on display in the ArtLab until Tuesday, March 18.

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