The Wells College Visual Arts Department and String Room Gallery are pleased to announce that Visiting Artist Pato Hebert returned to campus this month to install a site-responsive text piece created through collaboration and conversation with Wells students in early November. The installation includes aesthetically and poetically interesting text informed by the space in which it is installed, gathered from the words and ideas generated by discussions about identity with Wells students. All are invited and welcome to view the work anytime during regular library hours.
String Room Gallery staff presented the work at an unveiling in the Long Library stairway on December 4. Hebert joined the students, faculty and staff in attendance to discuss the project and the artistic principles that guided its formation and placement. "I don't know this place the way you do, as a guest here, but it feels so Wellsian to me," said Hebert to students, discussing the unique and complex elements that make up the work. Rather than dictating or explaining the project himself, Hebert asked a series of questions about the physical context and audience responses to this type of "text in space" or "books made visible."
"It's a way of getting your viewer to stop and think about the words and the phrasing and for them to use those words to jog memories related to personal relationships," said Keima Simms '16 (Visual Arts: Studio Art). "A lot of people feel like art is only images and pictures, that words and text can't be 'art.' But I've always had a thing for words I guess. I don't know how else to put that!"
"Well, what about words call to us?" responded Hebert. "You all are brilliant, you're here not by accident, so I'm assuming we all here have some facility with language, though some of us are more comfortable talking than others—or talking in certain kinds of spaces with certain kinds of people in certain kinds of ways—but I'm curious about this point, about language and words as art. Does that seem exciting to us, or quite strange? Whether it's part of your homework or a presentation or you're sending a flirty text or opening a space with your mom by sending a letter home, I'm inviting you all to think about the ways that language is present in your worlds."
Hebert's residency, which included an exhibition of work in the String Room Gallery, is supported by the Wells College Scholar in Residency Program, with additional support from the Women's & Gender Studies Program and the String Room Gallery.