“Cult of the Ruin: Strategies of Accumulation”

Diane Jong | Staff Photographer

The University Art Gallery opened its January exhibition last week, entitled “Cult of the Ruin: Strategies of Accumulation.” The exhibition is curated by MFA candidates in the Studio Art program at UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

Artists from both the United States and Europe, whose works “address the perceived gap between records of the past and our present experiences,” are featured in the exhibition. With this theme uniting them all together, the pieces on display at the opening reception include sculpture, video, paint and installation works.

The opening reception for “Cult of the Ruin” attracted many curious students and members of the community. A wide array of food and drink was served at no charge to all who attended the evening’s reception. Nearly all age groups were represented in the gallery, some anxious to view the end result of months of planning, others simply eager to see something new.

Attendees expressed both inspiration and puzzlement in reaction to the displays, but all were enthusiastic to understand and learn more about the art pieces. The obscure quality of the works featured propelled a communication between the viewers, all eager to hear what others thought about the pieces.

Mahalia Knight, a third-year art history major, was excited to see the variety of art featured in the gallery. “They use really innovative mediums … not stuff we’d traditionally take for art.”
One such innovative piece by artist Katie Ammons involved time in addition to space. Three molds of ice hanging from the ceiling with several rocks frozen into each one of them were observed as they melted over the course of the evening. The melting ice created an always-changing formation of water (black from the pigment in the rocks) on the floor underneath the installation. Every few minutes at first, and then more frequently as the ice molds shrank, a rock would be released from the melting ice molds and hit the hardwood floor.

When asked about the piece, Ammons revealed that it was a work in progress which she has been constantly refining and re-working over the past few years. Several versions of the same piece have existed in the past and she expects that more will arise in the future.
She did not go into an explanation of the piece, as she felt that it would take away from the viewers’ experiences and hinder their capacity to form their own opinions about it.

She did, however, highly praise the curators of the exhibition, remarking upon the “effort the curators put into making the exhibition classy.” She was amazed by the final result and commended the curators for their hard work. “I had no expectations,” she admitted, and was blown away by the final result of the show.

Another artist featured in the show, Jesse Wine, commented that the exhibition felt like “a museum show,” and attributed that quality to the class produced by the curators as well.

Wine also chose to leave the interpretation of his featured works, entitled “Generation LOL 1, 2, and 3” up to the spectator; however, he did offer a glimpse into his thought process when creating art by stating that his artworks usually “start with the bud of an idea.”
The overall reaction to these untraditional forms of art was overwhelmingly positive.

Knight noted a progression in the international art movement, saying how the exhibition “plays around with new materials and changes the boundaries of art.” This idea is reinforced in the statement provided upon entering the gallery, which points to the impulse of artists to “return to outmoded forms and systems — or ruins — to reinvigorate their contemporary value.”

Third-year music major Kateland Cunningham associated the exhibition to her own area of expertise, admitting that the featured art made her “want to do something new with music.” In reference to an art piece that played part of an old Beach Boys tune, Cunningham remarked, “to find music in other forms of art is amazing.”

Four videos presented at the show encompassed many other forms of art as well. Artists incorporated dance, drama, cinematography and editing into their videos to create the end results.

“Cult of the Ruin: Strategies of Accumulation” runs through Feb. 5 at the University Art Gallery, open daily until 5 p.m.