‘Pieces’ aims to foster discussion, interaction
An exhibit sponsored by the UIC Dialogue Initiative showcases student and alumni artwork as a platform for discussion and interaction among those who encounter its artistry.
“Pieces: Art, Identity & Dialogue” is on display through Feb. 26 in the Montgomery Ward Gallery in Student Center East.
“We called it ‘Pieces’ because all the different pieces that come to the community every day are what make our community unique,” said Philip Vasquez, associate director of Student Development Services and an organizer of the initiative.
“All of us are a piece of the UIC community and we hope that this exhibit and gallery can foster those differences,” he said.
Charu Thakral said the UIC Dialogue Initiative helps students and employees get involved in the community.
“It teaches people how to work successfully in groups, have hard conversations and really become comfortable with talking about hard topics,” said Thakral, associate director of diversity educational and research initiatives in the Office of Diversity.
UIC students and alumni submitted artwork with the intention of provoking discussion about race, religion, gender and sexual orientation.
Instead of emphasizing the differences between these parts of an identity, the Dialogue Initiative focuses on the intersectionality of these conditions and how they relate to individuals taking part in the discussion.
Dialogue doesn’t just mean talking, said Liz Thomson, an organizer of the exhibit.
“It’s actually more of the act of listening and self-reflection,” said Thomson, doctoral student in the disability studies program.
Students and alumni from the UIC College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts were the primary contributors to the exhibit but students from all academic disciplines were encouraged to submit artwork.
Master’s of fine arts student Soohyun Kim displayed his photography on Shantytown in Seoul, South Korea. Instead of highlighting the “shabbiness and miserableness of poverty in the neighborhood,” he wrote that he explored how humankind has shaped the area. His photographs provide an up-close and personal view of humanity, in contrast with the impoverished structures that encase it.
UIC alumna Maria Alejos-Barnett submitted photos varying in size, context and placement to draw viewers into the discussion. The smallest photos depict intimacy between Alejos-Barnett and her partner, while the larger frames stressed commonplace areas of an intimate setting.
The exhibition in the Montgomery Ward Gallery is an extension of the classes the Dialogue Initiative provides to incoming freshmen. Organizers hope to eventually open up the courses all students.
“We want to plant that seed that you can make social change,” Thomson said.