Gund Gallery Playlists: Aftermath

This week’s Gund Gallery playlist is based on our new exhibition, Aftermath: The Fallout of War. This exhibit highlights the cruelty of war, and the effects it has on all aspects of society. The images in the exhibit provoke reflection on the effects of combat, loss, grief, and uncertainty moving forward with life in the wake of destruction.

As such, the playlist procured for this week is designed to take the listener on a journey from the perspective of those effected the anticipation of war, battle itself, and the fallout after. The songs are meant to translate the resolve of a soldier in combat, as well as the confusion, despair, and strength of those who have lost something to war.


George Costanzo 19′


Favorite Contemporary Artist: Alec Soth

Alec Soth (b. 1969) is a contemporary photographer born and based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has published over twenty-five books, had over fifty solo exhibitions, and been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship (2013). In 2008, Soth created Little Brown Mushroom (, a multi-media enterprise focused on visual storytelling.

His photographs tell stories of people, families, places across the United States. He travels often, pausing in places to meet people, take their pictures, and write down their narratives. Most of his photos come from a publication called the Little Brown Mushroom Dispatch, which he started with writer Brad Zellar. Soth asked Zellar to indulge him with an imaginary newspaper assignment as a birthday present. They ended up covering a story about a stray cat living under a suburban freeway interchange. “Freed from the conventions of working for a real paper, Brad and I were able to get at the poignancy behind the somewhat trivial story,” said Soth. They continued exploring, attending church musicals and talking to a WWII re-enactor. Regarding the beginning of the project Zellar notes, “Alec likes to take things over the falls in a barrel”. This characteristic is most likely what made Dispatch happen; Soth made business cards for this fake newspaper and then decided to go on a trip to Ohio, where the first Dispatch was born. Since then they have self-published seven 48-page editions from Ohio, New York, Michigan, California, Colorado, Texas, and Georgia, places that were chosen “mostly serendipitously”, according to Soth. Unfortunately they are going to stop printing: “The whole nature was do-it-yourself, like a lemonade stand,” Soth says. ‘‘The longer it went on, the more interest there was, from institutions and magazines, and that started to make it a different kind of thing”.

In Soth’s own words, his work “capture[s] both the humanity and banality of the American continent… in the style of both newspaper journalism and the Walker Evans/James Agee approach”. I enjoy his work because of its narrative nature. It provides a raw depiction of American life, which I think can prove hard to find in today’s oversaturation of reality television and celebrities’ social media.

Emma Garschagen ’19

Gund Associate Team Spotlight: Curatorial Research

Natasha Siyumbwa, ’17, is the Gund Associate leader of Curatorial Research. Earlier this semester, Natasha worked with the other Curatorial teams, Curatorial Writing and Curatorial Projects, to develop and display the Black Women/Black Lives exhibit in Gund 103.

As head of the Research division, Natasha was especially involved with the student curator’s trip to Brooklyn in order to gather historic art objects from Interference Archives in New York City. The selected works include pamphlets on Black women within the feminist movement and intersectionality with early LGBT groups of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.

Although Black Women/Black Lives closed its doors yesterday, Natasha and the rest of the Curatorial team have exciting things in the works! Stay tuned throughout the semester for more updates on Curatorial Research, Writing, and Projects.

Student Artist Spotlight: Aaron Salm

Aaron Salm is a Studio Art and Anthropology major from Lincoln, Massachusetts (near Boston). However, he admits that he is “more into the art” than the Anthropology major. Still, the Anthropology major.

Why Studio Art?

Aaron Salm did not think he would be a Studio Art major when he came to Kenyon. In fact, in high school, he once rejected a teacher’s suggestion that he take an art class because he wanted to do something “practical.” But then Aaron was cut from the soccer team. He explained, “Soccer was a real thing I used to express myself and relax… art became that kind of thing for me.”

As a young student, Aaron went to a lot of the art shows on campus. He was impressed by the degree of professionalism and skill on display at these shows. After taking a class with professor Reed, he decided to declared. Aaron enjoyed how, “you could really express yourself… be yourself in the classroom.”


How does Aaron take advantage of having his own studio?

Aaron admits, “I kind of hare the library.” So he does most of his homework in his studio. In addition, the studio space provides great access to other student’s ideas. He told us that “the students here are super into what they do.” In Horvitz, Aaron“can bounce to another students studio.” He says that “everyone is an influence to everyone.”


What are Aaron’s influences?

Aaron is inspired by neo-expressionists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel. He has been using their techniques to develop a personal artistic “vocabulary” through whcih he hopes to tackle themes relating to “trauma,” specifically alcoholism in his family. However, he aims to create work that relates to many peoples lives. He wants to make, “a narrative thing that people can relate to. Not just my experience.”

Image result for basquiat paintings

Basquiat, Untitled (Fallen Angel)

Museum Trends: Technology in the Galleries

Curators began placing iPads and tablets in museum exhibitions a few years ago, giving visitors more insight into the artist’s background, previous work, or even the pieces on view. As the technology industry rapidly grows, those advancements are reflected in museums. In 2015, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art gave visitors virtual-reality goggles to look at a Jackson Pollock painting. When they looked at the work, splatters of paint seemed to break away from the canvas and float before their eyes. With such innovations, museums could attract more viewers of all ages, and change the way visitors learn and interact with the art. London’s Natural History Museum recently released a film that recreates ocean creatures from 500 million years ago. The Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Illinois now has a life-size video of a Holocaust survivor and hopes in the future to evolve that into a hologram-like 3-D person.

Children’s, history, and science museums have used interactive forms of technology for years. Art museums, which were once considered too highbrow for these advancements, are now employing them in thoughtful ways. While technology can aid learning, it also has the potential to hinder a deeper understanding of the art by distracting the viewer. It is all too easy to get swept up in the wonder of virtual-reality goggles, and consequently neglect to read the wall labels.

However, technology can also help to capture the imagination. Visitors wearing virtual-reality goggles could be inspired to create beautiful art.

Personally, I am very excited to see how technology affects the education of museum-goers, and accessibility of art in general.

Read more about the VR projects at the Natural History Museum in London here:

Read more about the Holocaust survivor holograms at the Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Illinois here:

Amy Shirer ’18