It was a combination of body casting, navel gazing, lectures, workshops, cutting-edge commercial art, photography and even surprise dancing at a recent art exhibit’s opening reception in the Alexander Brest Gallery.
“Omphalos,” with works by artist Lauren Frances Evans; “Cycle,” by photographer Jensen Hande; and “FIEA Game Art,” with art concepts of interactive game design and game trailers, all embrace ideas of “collaboration and interactivity.” The exhibits run through March 18.
Lily Kuonen, JU assistant professor of foundations, coordinated the artists’ “very different works” to highlight their common ideas of collaboration and interactivity in the exhibition.
The Omphalos exhibit was prompted by the allure of origins, according to the artist. It included a casting of Evans’ own navel and those of participating JU and professional visiting dancers created by the University’s Visual Arts students during advance casting workshops. Feet, hands, navels, torsos and more were created into artworks that explored the use of the body in creating space. Evans displayed sculpture, castings and two-dimensional works inspired by “Omphalos,” Greek for navel or belly button. (See a Facebook photo gallery of the workshops and reception here.)
Students from JU Dance, along with Prof. Brian Frus’ casting class in Visual Arts and members of the community, attended the two-day interdisciplinary body casting workshops in advance, as Evans worked with them as a visiting artist to use the human form and plaster to create “a positive space out of a negative space” in the form of sculpture.
The dancers who volunteered to create the castings also collaborated with Evans and visiting dance instructor Tiffany Rea-Fisher, associate artistic director and director of operations of the Elisa Monte Dance Company in New York, to create a surprise site-specific choreographed dance routine in the gallery space at the opening reception. The improvised production featured the dancers performing in the gallery to the similarly improvised music of local musician Jonah Pierre.
Hande’s commercial photography was also on display, including distinctive images of bicycles from the Riverside/Avondale neighborhoods of Jacksonville. He and Evans also gave gallery talks and instruction related to their work at the Feb. 19 opening reception.
The exhibit also featured interactive design work presented by Brian Salisbury, art director at Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy. Faculty from the FIEA program at the University of Central Florida drove up to discuss the work in the exhibition and their program. Three of JU’s recent graduates are currently enrolled in the FIEA masters program.
The FIEA exhibit included pre-production and concept work, industry-based print concept art and 3D game content with trailers and animations from students and faculty in the program. The work was designed to be energizing and informative.