Art exhibit merges technology with history at Drake University

Art history is being paired with technology for an art exhibit in Des Moines.

The latest art exhibit inside the Anderson Gallery at Drake University displays technology from various cultures and periods in time. The technology is the main device used for communication in each society—symbols or words.

The exhibit—Apparatus: The Technology of Seeing/Worldviews—is on display until Oct. 22 at the Anderson Gallery inside the Harmon Fine Arts Center on the Drake University campus. It allows visitors to walk through seven different cultures and presents a schematic view of how each culture organizes the world.

Lenore Metrick-Chen is an art history professor at Drake University spent a year curating pieces from local artists as well as artists from seven different cultures. She explains that art is embedded in culture and utilizes technology that is most powerful from its time period.

“We have seven different sections and each one has its own apparatus,” Metrick-Chen said. “The Apparatus is what I consider the links between power and society. And in each section I define the main technology for linking the apparatus.”

“Apparatus” highlights technology from these periods of time:

  • Gothic period,
  • Yoruba people in Nigeria,
  • Renaissance,
  • Ming Dynasty in China,
  • Western Nations in the 19th century,
  • United States Minimalism in the 1960s,
  • Our current time period.

Metrick-Chen says she hopes the exhibit exposes visitors to new view points and cultures.

“It questions the boundaries of any culture,” Metrick-Chen says. “Cultures are always permeable and they are always changing. That is the idea of apparatusThe components of one culture flow into other cultures and overlap. The entire apparatus of one culture can be just one component in a ‘global’ culture. We are connected through many different networks in many different ways. And the glue that connects us is the media —  the technology.”

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‘Killer objects’

Metrick-Chen calls the Anderson Gallery, “A bowling alley” because of its rectangular shape. And the last piece of technology inside the Apparatus exhibit allows artists to paint using virtual reality.

Tilt Brush represents the year 2017 and the future. Metrick-Chen says she’d like people to experiment with Tilt Brush because anything done with that technology, is being done for the first time..

“No one is good or better at it than anyone else because it is all so new,” she says. “This is a rare place to be at, and I hope everyone takes advantage of this gift of the new.”

Some of the other technologies include:

  • Flying buttress representing the Gothic era in Europe
  • Quadrant representing the Renissance
  • The brush represents the Ming Dynasty in China
  • Dance representing the Yoruba People in Nigeria

“There’s all these cultural crossovers that I wanted to at least talk about,” Metrick-Chen says. “The objects alone are killer. It’s rare we have works of this quality.”

Metrick-Chen says the exhibit is like a walk through art history.

“Only instead of being about a certain style, it’s about cultural art history,” she says. “Because it’s about what was the power and what was the structure of that culture. The technology links to power.”

She said Drake University and the Anderson Gallery hosts at least one art show a year that is cultural based and explores art as an expression of culture, along with student art shows and graphic design shows.

“Students are usually amazed we have a gallery, they never knew that so it’s all new to them,” she says with a laugh. “The students who have been here for more than a year are more interested because they see how we are constantly transforming this into a different kind of space.”‘

The Anderson Gallery is open from noon-4 p.m Tuesday through Sunday and open till 8 p.m. on Thursday.