On Thursday, March 21, the Philosophy Society of Troy University organized an open discussion and presentation of “Close Encounters with Contemporary Art.”
The presentation was led by Beverly West Leach, a lecturer of art and design, who shed light on an often-overlooked genre of art known as contemporary art. Contemporary art is referred to as the “art of today” – this form includes the art produced in the second half of the 20th century and in the 21st century.
Contemporary art is often confused with modern art. Leach explained while modern art is a very specific movement, contemporary art is like the art of our times.
According to Leach, contemporary art can often be off putting to the people who don’t go to art museums or study contemporary art much because it needs a lot of back story.
“Contemporary art is almost sort of absurd in a way, like when people see something very simple like a hammer stuck in a wall,” said Charles Jeffery Taylor, a junior world history major from Austin, Texas, and the vice-president of the Philosophy society.
According to Taylor, when people think of art, they usually think of grand works with a lot of effort put into it, like the Sistine Chapel. Contemporary art, however, often includes work by artists who aren’t necessarily putting in a lot of effort but are creating with the philosophy of making art in the moment, the natural process of being in the artistic state of mind.
“What people often find difficult with contemporary art is that it is not always representational,” Leach said. “It doesn’t always reflect the world as to how we see it around us.”
Leach mentioned that contemporary art can be very diverse and has a personal approach by the artist. It tends to be environmental, immersive and minimal and is not necessarily just a painting but is usually a fusion of a variety of mediums or even technology.
“Contemporary art can be rather whimsical and fun and just out in public spaces,” Leach said. “There are contemporary artists that use projected imagery on the outsides of buildings, and this happens kind of worldwide.”
Contemporary art is easily accessible on the campus at The International Arts Center (IAC). The art center features works from the 1960s to more recent pieces by the artist Fred “Nall” Hollis.
Aside from Hollis’ work, the center also has a rotating exhibition where the art faculty interacts with artists across the country.
Taylor mentioned that the art department doesn’t have the funding to do as much as they would like and increasing the funding for the art department can help bring awareness about contemporary art. He explained that the information about contemporary art can be spread through the works displayed in the art center.
“You just transcend into art when you experience it,” Taylor said. “If you look at a work of architecture or art, it affects you in ways that just a lecture about it wouldn’t.”
Leach said she encourages everyone to take a break from work and relax in the atmosphere of beautiful art exhibited in the IAC.