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The Ties That Bind: Interpreting history through an artist’s lens

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By Nia Sanders

Staff Writer

[email protected]

February 17, 2015


“The Ties That Bind: Artists and Archives” exhibit opened at the University Art Museum on Feb. 17. On display until April 4, the exhibit focuses on the way seven artists bind archives, a collection of historical sources, with their artistic style.

Corinna Ripps Schaming, Associate Director of the University Museum, is the mastermind behind this exhibit. The artists featured in the exhibit, who include Katerina Seda, Brian Zanisnik, Elise McMahon, Anna Craycroft, Michael Oatman, Shane Aslan Selzer, and Aurelien Froment, inspired her in more ways than one.

“I love art and history,” said Schaming. “Archives have unlimited potential, and it takes a particular artist to find meaning in them. These artists were able to extract history, memory, and pop culture in ways that everyone can understand.”

The main floor [Seda, Zanisnik, and McMahon] zoned in on family ties, personal connections and narratives. The second floor [Craycroft, Oatman, Selzer, and Froment] is focused on public archives, popular culture, and history.

Mug shots, negatives, drawings, documentaries, and vintage items were just some of the items the artists used to revive the archives.  “What happens to objects and images when remixed into new systems and categories? What memories and emotions are sparked? What new meaning and ideas arise?”asked Schaming.

Shane Aslan Selzer, for instance, utlized pictures she found in the University at Albany archives of social gatherings on campus from 1910 to the present. The images formed a collage of protest rallies, rituals, and lectures.

The merging of these gatherings served as a way to see that students’ collective behavior in terms of social action has remained constant. In fact, Selzer is currently collecting protest signs from the present to further her study.

Anna Craycroft touched many with her focus on western culture’s obsession with orphans. Her piece hit a nerve with much of the museum’s staff, showcasing children from film, television, and reality that many people can recall.

“In the end, what Anna came up with in her research was that the orphan represents power,”  concluded Schaming. “Orphans start with nothing and become something. Their narrative is what appeals to us- the ability to overcome circumstances and the ability to fulfill one’s desires through having nothing and making something.”

Schaming was very optimistic about the grand opening and hopes visitors will grasp the underlying theme of the exhibit.

“There are different ways that we contain memory and there are so many similar ways that we think about the past it connect it to the present. It creates a sense of proximity for everyone present at the exhibit.”

In addition to showcasing “The Ties that Bind,” the University Museum will feature Anna Craycroft on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. and have an artist reception on Tuesday, March 10 from 5 to 7 p.m.

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