Like most bookcases, Trophy Room’s slats hold a montage of things, some placed there on purpose for esthetic appeal, others put down by chance.
Shelves dotted with colorful, screen-printed works call to mind a museum with all manner of masterpiece. Created by artist Andrew Kozlowski, ancient artifacts cozy up to more common items – traffic cones, tin cans and tree stumps. But UMW students are at the heart of the show.
“They have ownership in it because they get to make decisions about where things go,” Associate Professor of Studio Art Rosemary Jesionowski said of the exhibit, on view at duPont Gallery through Dec. 4. “I think it’s great to see them see things in a different way.”
Jesionowski’s Multiple Imaging class conferred with Kozlowski, an Auburn University assistant professor and self-titled collector of culture, who brought along boxes brimming with objects that define our lives. Students dug into the laser-cut screen-printed pieces, choosing items to wheat-paste onto the gallery’s super-long wall.
The artist reinforced general concepts – color schemes, spatial reasoning, organization and gravity – before setting students free to create. “I don’t always know what in the world they’re thinking,” said Kozlowski, who’s inspired by pop culture, history, politics and nature, and draws from his fleeting Facebook feed, as much as anything else.
French fry containers and potted plants share shelf space with Navajo vases and relics from Roman times. A presidential campaign hat and a Kanye West bust vie for space with the can of Miller High Life Kozlowski was drinking when he heard that Osama bin Laden was dead and the gun that killed Trayvon Martin.
“Museums are strange things that bring all these histories together,” said Kozlowski, who holds a bachelor’s degree in printmaking from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and an MFA in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University. A 2011-2012 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts fellow, he’s shown his work across the U.S. and abroad.
Junior art major Rachel Hicks chose a kitty-cat coffee mug to paste to the wall. A former curator for a gallery run by a UMW studio art alumna, Hicks appreciated the experience of being involved. “You can’t pay for the education that installation provides,” she said.
Several in the class were familiar with Kozlowski’s technique – screen-printing art onto paper and cutting it out with a laser – but the best part of the process was student participation.
“It’s great,” said senior communication and digital studies major Max Johnson. “Everybody that’s been involved is going to feel a part of it, and now they’re going to feel attached to it.”