There is a lot of talk in the art world about the functionality of space, both in regards to how it alters a piece and its affect on a gallery.
“Fabrications” at the Elaine L. Jacob Gallery is a collection of site-specific installation art from emerging and established artists from different parts of the country. The art is and the gallery’s architecture work hand-in-hand in the exhibit.
The gallery has been open since the end of August, but the reception wasn’t held until Sept. 30 to coincide with Art Detroit Now’s Detroit Gallery Week, a move that also allowed Elaine Jacob herself to be in attendance.
Gene Jenneman, executive director at Northwestern Michigan College’s Dennos Museum Center, was there to participate in a panel discussion that included some of the artists.
“One of the big controversies in museum design these days is they have all these designer architects these days … that are hired to sort of create buildings that are sculpture because it creates curiosity on the street to see this unusual looking building,” Jenneman said. “But what suffers in that process is what happens inside.”
That process is how art is displayed in the gallery, he said, and that some galleries with provocative designs make it difficult to arrange an exhibition.
Sloped walls and curved architecture can “become a nightmare really quickly in terms of being able to install within that space,” Jenneman said.
Jenneman has been director of the Dennos since it opened in 1991 and assisted the architects in designing the gallery in 1988.
Two works by Jarod Charzewksi, originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, are on display. “I Have Seen the Gates of Hell” is made completely of used donated clothing and clothing he collected from thrift stores.
“The more I visit them (thrift store warehouses) the more you get the sense of the huge amount of materials that are consumed and not sold through them and then disposed of because they cannot be sold for whatever reason,” Charzewski said. “So I started imagining this fabricated earth with all of our post-consumer goods that sort of make up the planet.”
The result is a rolling pile of neatly folded clothing that mimics a landscape. Colors are separated and the piece is mostly topped with green clothes to look like grass.
Since all of the clothes are going to eventually end up in a landfill, he said he wanted to give them another lifespan before that happens. Charzewski got his master’s from the University of Minnesota and is an assistant professor of sculpture at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.
After “Fabrications” closes, the clothes will be donated to the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, a nonprofit that helps the homeless. The piece is meant to be temporary, Charzewski said.
“It has to be destroyed; it has to be taken down. It’s the nature of the work,” he said.
The reception featured some comments from Jacob, who was introduced by College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts Interim Dean Matt Seeger.
Jacob, who graduated from Wayne State in 1942, had not been back to campus in nearly two decades, she said, and this was the first time she saw the gallery that bares her name.
She wasn’t sure what the final result would be when she donated the money to build it, she said.
“I was just glad that it was an art department function because I am an artist.”
After she graduated from WSU with a degree in industrial design, Jacob went on to design plastic containers for which she was successful.
The Max Jacob House, the official residence of WSU’s president, is named for her grandfather.
Even after decades of being a designer, she still plans on continuing her passion.
“I don’t think I can stop being creative,” she said.