Lewis & Clark sculpture students completed their first big project of the semester by building a kiosk in the atrium of Watzek Library. Nine sculpture students, from Sculpture 213 and 313, took turns manning the kiosk from Feb. 19 to March 3. The kiosk transformed into a different booth multiple times per day, depending on the project of the student behind the counter. The nine different concepts included self-affirmation, missed connections and questions of gender identity.
Associate Professor and Head of Sculpture Jess Perlitz orchestrated the project. She believes that there is a history of transactional art, and creating art in this manner is a good way for aspiring artists to practice displaying their work. Transactional art is a specific art form that involves the viewer giving something to the artist in exchange for experiencing their art.
“In part, some of my motivation was also Lucy in the Peanuts cartoon strip,” Perlitz said via email. “She has that endearing lemonade stand where she offers her service of Psychiatric Help for 5 cents. So I asked the Sculpture 2/3 class to collaboratively make a similar kiosk – and then all the students in our class individually had to think about offering a service from the kiosk.”
Alaryx Tenzer ’23 participated in the installation.
“We all have a project of our own that is a transactional sort of project … seeing how we can engage the community in the making of the art itself,” Tenzer said.
The idea behind each installation involved a person approaching the kiosk and then providing something to the sculpture student behind the counter, and the student would then offer something else in return. For example, in Tenzer’s booth, the Love Cafe, participants “purchased” services for the price of self-kindness.
“I have a firm handshake, and in order to buy that firm handshake you just have to smile, so it’s kind of working on self and external love between the two,” Tenzer said.
Avia Kaner-Roth ’22 approached Tenzer’s kiosk.
“It put a smile on my face,” Kaner-Roth said. “It was really sweet, and it was different from anything I’ve ever done before.”
Another main point of the project was emphasizing that transactions do not always include the exchange of money for a good or service; there are other things that lack material value but can be far more important.
“I thought it was interesting to see instead of the exchange of monetary things for a good or a service it was an exchange of an affirmation or a good deed in exchange for self-love which I think is something to support and encourage and something we need more of,” Kaner-Roth said.
The installation encouraged the community to interact directly with the art. Jesse Maack ’22 was another student involved in creating the kiosk.
“It gives people a chance to interact with our works, as well as giving us as makers a chance to get more comfortable showing our work off publicly,” Maack said. “It’s a cool thing for people to come and interact with something they wouldn’t normally interact with in their everyday life.”.
His installation was entitled “Happiness in a Box.” He invited participants to stick their heads into a wooden cube he had built. The interior of the cube contained small shelves lined with tubes containing small plants, and above the plants was a large lamp.
“It is sort of an upgraded happy lamp, and the idea behind it is that it’s easily taken apart … and that you have this thing that we think about a lot which is happiness and that we have this natural beauty around us and we like to buy something to simulate that,” Maack said.
Maack’s kiosk took a subtler approach to the idea of a transaction.
“The transaction is people just coming up and sticking their head in … they provide their head, and the box provides the space for them to experience,” Maack said.
The kiosk installation allowed sculpture students to think about the process of making art in a new way, one that emphasizes the audience’s relationship to the art. Since the installation was located in the library, sculpture students were given the chance to interact with many different students, which provided them an opportunity to gain the important skill of presenting their art in public.
“I love the range of projects the students are making with the kiosk,” Perlitz said via email. “I feel particularly attentive to how their various projects address the LC community in surprising, and humorous, and thought provoking ways.”