If you were on campus last fall, you may have witnessed the first public art actions taken by the College of Liberal Arts’ Entrepreneurship Scientific Learning and Wellness Curatorial Collective, (or “C.O.L.E.S.L.A.W” for short). These works of interactive public art were the outcome of Dr. Converse’s art history course “Public Art and the Public Sphere.” The class examined public art within broader contexts over the meaning of art and politics.
Students learned how public art corresponds to society and society to public art, and then created their own works of interactive public art within their communities, including campus. In this way, the course served as a laboratory for putting C.O.L.E.S.L.A.W into play. Students experimented with different ideas but, according to Dr. Converse, “a shared goal was to make real objects in real space as a response to the isolation and alienation of the pandemic.”
Two student-designed art projects that stood out were by Jack Zisfain and Justin Jobelle. Jack is a fashion major who obtained access from Woodbury’s fashion archives to put together a flash-mob style runway show. He reimagined Woodbury’s concrete walkways as makeshift runways, recruited models, and staged the event at the height of the lunch hour.
Jack’s goal, as noted in his artist statement, was to create a small pop-up fashion show as a way “to entertain the collective student body and staff during lunch time, as well as show off our excellent historical collection. It would be an exciting way to distract everyone from their troubles for just a split moment in time. The ’very sexy, very 80s’ show was pretty louche for the Woodbury quad and a huge success,” Dr. Converse observed.
Justin Jobelle’s project was more contemplative in design. Drawing inspiration from the Japanese cultural celebration Tanabat, where people write wishes on colorful strips of paper and tie them onto a bamboo tree, Justin created a sculpture piece and hung it in a Woodbury corridor. The Hanging Wish Sculpture took the form of an abstracted image of a graduating Woodbury student.
Justin attached lengths of weighted strings with colored wood cards tied to the ends to the sculpture. Each wooden card had a wish written by a Woodbury student before the date of the exhibition. “The resulting suspended pieces,” Justin explains, created “a perspective illusion sculpture representing people’s wishes.” “Justin is a really interesting character, super brilliant and creative and very socially outgoing,” Dr. Converse observes. “He had a lot of success with his project because of those reasons, and he had an easy time getting other students to open up and share.”
Last Updated on February 18, 2022.