Tucked away in the basement of Claudia Cohen Hall on March 21, Penn Art Club’s annual exhibition, this year titled "Infinity," was an unexpected escape from a typical drab weeknight. The Penn Pipers sung Beach Boys tunes, the walls featured colorful paintings and attendees decorated glass windows laid out for an interactive exhibit. Art Club President and Engineering and Wharton junior Amy Wu explained that this was the environment the club had envisioned. She emphasized that she wanted to “incorporate everyone, and show that art can be a part of life, even at a pre–professional place like this.”
Wu met her aim almost exactly. The event mixed the artistically experienced and the inexperienced alike. Some contributors had formally studied art since childhood, while others had artistic ability that did not extend past sketching tables for marketing class. One college senior mentioned that he had not been to an art event since high school, and another nursing sophomore explained that her rigorous curriculum often kept her from expressing herself creatively. The atmosphere embraced all sort sorts of expressive endeavors. Some attendees focused on the a capella group in appreciation of auditory art, some on the paintings in appreciation of visual art and others on the snack table, in appreciation of what can be loosely considered culinary art.
Oil paintings and charcoal sketches lined the Fox Art Gallery, but perhaps the most striking pieces were the ones that incorporated digital elements. Ethan Skaggs’s vector illustration entitled “Self Portrait” and Martina Merlo’s projected video called “The Chairman Man” drew great attention, and also highlighted the distinctive Penn twist in many of the pieces.
“Penn art is different because we’re not an art–based school. We incorporate subject matter and technique from other fields,” said event co–coordinator and college sophomore Olivia Rabe.
Attendees, not just artists, incorporated this fusion of technological realm. Wharton sophomore Nikita Anand painted a hashtag beneath her doodle on the interactive window display, a play on the window–like effects that Instagram uses. She emphasized that technology, like the show itself, makes art more accessible to students. Anand explained that, “Not everyone has an SLR camera or Photoshop capabilities. Instagram allows you to capture memories and add effects for more artistic drama.”
The club plans to continue the event in coming years, and encourages students to visit. Wu mentioned that art “brings a new joy to college that you didn’t know you were missing.” It definitely seemed true—a stomach full of cupcakes, ear full of music and thoughts full of color, the event was far more fulfilling than a weeknight at Van Pelt.
Popular Choice Winners from the exhibit: Hitesh Sahoo, Mariya Nikiforova and Ethan Skaggs!