The Bapst Student Art Gallery (which I didn't even know existed until my editor gave me this assignment) features student artwork in a hallway just to the left of the main entrance to Bapst. So for a change when I walked into Bapst, instead of rushing in to find a desk to finish my work that I put off during this long weekend, I took a slow walk through Sammy Chong's exhibit, called AMIDST.
Chong, like any other artist, uses his art to express himself. Chong says his work is, "always attempting to connect with this rich artistic heritage which usually brings forward philosophical, poetical, and theological considerations into visual art." The philosophical considerations in this body of work literally jump out from the wall and show any viewer the loneliness and unity of everyday life.
They are questions that any college student can ask his or herself on the T, while riding the BC shuttle, at the gym, in line at the Chocolate Bar or sitting at the library. When looking at these pieces, one can see how they "bring forward an awareness of the meditative nature of being both immersed in and removed from the activity around us."
AMIDST "explores the social, physical, and spiritual phenomena of disengagement in public spaces." The first piece, called “Still, Life,” depicts three layers of one scene using plexiglass. All of Chong's pieces use the material as his canvas, allowing him to depict empty space and the layers of separation that we put up in everyday situations.
The disconnect depicted in “Daily Bread,” three painting of cashiers from three popular fast food joints wearing just their uniforms and no faces, no arms, no hands. The transparency moves the eye to the background where the workers that cook the food are shown in a dark grey light wearing white shirts and fading faces. The cashiers are solely represented by the pictures of the food they serve floating above them; not by their physical features, but simply by the brand of their company.
“Rapture” is probably the piece that every student at Boston College can readily apply to his or her life. Three panels, with the biggest in the foreground and smallest in the background, show a crowded T train. People on the back panel are clearly more crowded than those in the first two, who take up two seats for themselves and ignore those around them by having headphones in ears and electronics in hand. Just as most of us do on the T to avoid unwanted attention or to feel like you aren't alone in one of the most crowded situations one can get oneself into.
The plexiglass is the perfect medium for these works of art. In life it is used to separate things and people from one another, but they are still transparent. But what are we missing by not sharing the same space as these other people and objects in our lives? The invisible wall that many of us have gotten so used to has surrounded most every person in modern society today, forcing people to remain in their bubbles, protected by empty stares and electronics.
Overall, this exhibit is worth taking a look at. Next time you need a study break in Bapst, don't just flip over to Facebook or take out your phone. Walk downstairs to AMIDST and see these five works for yourself, along with eight original works using vellum. The exhibit will be open until February 28th.