The Visual Arts Students Association (VASA) invited mavericks and amateurs to occupy gallery space with streamers, cardboard, and lingerie
Creative minds, smooth jazz, and a pile of recyclable material gave birth to a wonderful art installation set up in the Eleanor Winters Art Gallery. VASA (Visual Arts Students Association) hosted their third annual 24-hour workshop early last week, where skilled artists and passers-by got to add their own flair to the installation over two 12-hour sessions, showcasing the randomness of dozens of artists in one large art piece.
The idea of giving many artists a chance to merge their creativity together on one project was intriguing. With that in mind, it was still difficult to imagine what awaited me upon my arrival.
With some Radiohead softly playing in the background, some contributors painted a miniature cardboard house while squatting over the speckled tarp underneath; others stood around, gaining a perspective of the artwork from many angles.
Much of the work was hanging from the overhead lighting tracks, intertwined with colourful ribbon and lingerie. There were body casts of arms and legs and bits of VHS tape scattered about, adding contrast to an otherwise vibrant, neon colour scheme.
“We have the most random of materials,” says VASA president Joshua Vittivelu during my second visit. “To get a chance to just play, we get to use materials that are accessible. […] It pushes ingenuity with form and function.”
Upon my second visit, I was urged to pick up materials and begin constructing my own contribution to the artwork. This struck me as odd, considering I had no experience in the fine arts field. That made very little difference to the members of VASA, including Vittivelu, as the main goal was freedom of expression and creativity.
The 24-hour workshop is about “experimenting in a place where normally you don’t get to [with] no real beginning point or end point,” as explained by Vittivelu. “You’re thrown into one part of the gear to help push it forward.” It’s great for students during midterm season because many are stressed with year-end cramming and exams.
“It’s nice to have space to fail,” VASA member Miles Forester commented. “We want to see how people interact with the space.” Forester then proceeded to smash open a VHS tape with a nearby brick in order to extract the film for his own concept. He truly embodied the sentiment of freedom through his actions.
On Thursday’s reception night, many people stopped by to either participate or watch the creative madness for a short while.
“I was surprised that the response was so positive,” says Vittivelu. “A lot of people said this was the best event they could have come to.” Visual arts students don’t have the freedom and luxury to express themselves in this fashion, given that the early years are very structured; many students used the workshop to go wild for a few hours and express whatever they felt best reflected themselves with the time and resources at their disposal.
As the event entered its third year, it has changed significantly from its original sculpture-specific template. It’s not reserved for fine arts students—all students who enjoy being carefree for a short while are invited.
“It brings out my kiddish aspect,” says VASA member Amanda Boulos. I appreciate this sentiment at a time where many of us are looking back on our childhood for the last time.