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AI-driven artwork kicks off Purdue Galleries' 2019-20 exhibit schedule


Fall 2019 | By David Ching. Photo by Contributed.


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Visitors to the Robert L. Ringel Gallery should expect to experience multiple stages of appreciation when they view Anna Ridler’s AI-driven artwork between now and Sept. 26.

At its most basic level, Ridler's Dreaming, Automated: Deep Learning, Data Sets, and Decay will feature digitized images of tulips that change before their eyes. However, there is more to the exhibition than changing images of beautiful flowers. There is intention behind the metamorphosis that viewers will witness.

The British artist draws parallels between the historic 17th century tulip craze in the Netherlands and more recent fads like today’s fascination with cryptocurrency. In fact, the flowers’ stages of growth in the piece are programmed to correlate to the real-time value of bitcoin.

“The first thing that you get is, ‘Wow! This is phenomenal. What is it?’” chuckled Purdue Galleries interim director Erika Kvam. “And then the second thing is, ‘Oh my goodness. That makes so much sense.’ And then your third thought is, ‘Oh, and it ties into this, as well.’ It’s so multi-layered, but they’re also so accessible.

“Once you start reading, you get a whole visual story out of what she’s doing, but you also are able to delve into it layer by layer. It’s one of those things that you could spend hours and days with and still be finding out things and enjoying it.”

Ridler’s exhibition, also featuring a wall-sized portion of the 10,000 tulip photographs she took to create the data set for the digital work (pictured above), was recently featured in a recent Bloomberg article. Her creativity has also been recognized internationally, including an honorary mention in the 2019 Prix Ars Electronica digital art contest and the 2018-19 DARE Art Prize.

[Read excerpts from a conversation between artist Anna Ridler and THiNK Magazine editor David Ching here.]

Ridler’s exhibition kicks off Purdue Galleries’ 2019-20 schedule, with MFA student Charmaine Griffith simultaneously opening the school year at the Patti and Rusty Rueff Galleries in Yue-Kong Pao Hall with her Sentimental and Not collection.

Kvam explained what else Purdue Galleries has in store for gallery visitors in the next several months:

Additional Ringel exhibitions:

Following Ridler will be four additional exhibitions at the Ringel Gallery over the course of the school year:

* Up next will be Ministry of Truth: Art of the Propaganda Poster from Oct. 14 through Dec. 7 with support from the Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts program. This exhibition will highlight message delivery in propaganda posters from Purdue Archives and Special Collections, the Tippecanue Historical Association, and private collections. Visual Communications Design faculty member David Deal will curate.

“It will allow all viewers a different way of looking at things, a way to break down, ‘Well, what does this shading mean? What is this color supposed to evoke? What are the patterns here? Why are they doing that?’” Kvam said, noting the connection between themes in the exhibit and in George Orwell’s 1984, which will be a featured text in the Cornerstone program and a dramatic performance on the Purdue Convocations schedule on Oct. 16 and 17. “I’m really excited about being able to give people an entry point into being able to look at things critically, constructively, and be able to take apart the pieces and turn them around.”

* From Jan. 13 through Feb. 15, Galleries and Purdue Theatre will partner on Creative Muses: Art + Fashion, which will feature pieces from Galleries’ permanent collection and items from the Purdue Theatre Department Special Collection of Historic Dress. Exhibition designer Christina Cichra is collaborating with College of Liberal Arts Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and International Programs Joel Ebarb, a former chair of the Department of Theatre, to assemble an exhibition that explores the historical connection between fashion and art.

“They’ll be talking about the different social themes that they’re both tying into, the way fashion and art speak to each other throughout the years, and asking the viewer to think about, ‘Is art fashion or is fashion simply wearables?’” Kvam said.

* Undergraduate students in art and design will participate in their annual exhibition from Feb. 24 through March 13. Juried by faculty from the Patti & Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance, the show will highlight some of the school’s best artwork. The awards reception will be Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the gallery.

“It showcases how well the faculty are training our students and the things that they’re doing in classes,” Kvam said. “All of the artwork has to be from a class, so it’s really interesting to see what the different classes are doing, the talent that comes out.”

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* The final exhibition of the school year at Ringel will be Amir Fallah’s Symbols from March 30 through May 9. Through large, bright drawings and paintings like First-Person Shooter Game (pictured above), native Iranian Fallah examines themes related to the immigrant experience.

“I think this is a conversation that we should be having on campus,” Kvam said. “What does it mean to have a home and a sense of self? Coming to a college campus, the vast majority of people are moving away from home, sometimes for the first time on their own, and there is a lot of finding yourself in a new place and identifying who you are without being in the home. It’s something we all have the seeds to relate to.”

Rueff Galleries exhibitions:

Kvam also listed five exhibitions as highlights of the 2019-20 schedule at the Rueff Galleries (full schedule here):

* From Aug. 19 through Sept. 6, Griffith will curate Sentimental and Not., featuring work by Dayton, Ohio, artists Bridgette Bogle, Ashley Jude Jonas, and Mychaelyn Michalec. The show includes work spanning a variety of mediums, all of which will examine the relationship between gender roles and creativity.

 “There’s a huge number of artist-curators,” Kvam said, “and this is a chance for [Griffith] to step into that role and learn all the different things that it takes to produce an exhibition.”

* From Sept. 9-13, Rueff East will host the National Tibetan Sacred Arts Tour. Buddhist monks will create a sand mandala in the gallery over the course of the week. Among the week’s events will be an opening reception on Sunday, a procession to the Wabash River on Thursday, and the official breakup and deinstallation of the mandala on Friday.

* Indiana native Chris Francis will present To-the-Last: 21st Century Shoe Designs from Oct. 21 through Nov. 15 at Rueff East. The designer, who has created elaborate footwear for entertainer Dolly Parton and other celebrities, will visit campus for a gallery talk and reception on Nov. 7. An article in the fall 2019 issue of THiNK Magazine will feature Francis and his development as an artist.

* Partially overlapping with the Creative Muses: Art + Fashion collaboration will be a partnership between Galleries and the Dance Department titled, Into a Study [Among the Gods]. Alumnus Paul X. Rutz and partner Amanda Hampton Wray plan to introduce pieces that map the way people view artwork for the exhibit, which will run at the Rueff Galleries from Jan. 13-31. Rutz and Wray will be on campus for the final week of the exhibition, with a reception set for Jan. 30.

“I won’t give too much away, but she is a neuroscientist, so they will be doing some activities having to do with mapping the way people look at artwork,” Kvam said. “His pieces pair with that really well, so it’s going to be a really fantastic exhibition on neuroscience, but also fine art and how we interact with that, how we look at it, what our reactions are to it.”

* The final exhibition among the highlights at Rueff is the Purple’s Art Collective from Feb. 17-28. Kvam said MFA students in various disciplines within the Integrated Studio Arts program will showcase some of their work to date at the Rueff East.

To learn more about the exhibitions coming to Purdue Galleries this academic year, visit cla.purdue.edu/galleries.