On April 30th, 2016 I attended the gallery titled “Honoring the Ordinary” by Joel Isaak at Alfred University. The gallery space itself was very empty and didn’t have a large number of pieces. There were some slabs of wood with silhouettes of trees painted on them in a single color, leaving the texture of the wood as the negative space.
There were also some rows of cloth hanging on a wall that had information painted on them about different types of fish, as if they were pages from a book.
The main attraction was the giant structure in the back of the room that was made up of several humongous pieces of animal skin-like cloths suspended over a dirt pit.
What was interesting was that as time passed, adults and children were taking off their shoes and going to walk in the dirt. There were no signs saying whether that was allowed or not, but I thought it was an interesting interactive component that developed from the piece, whether it was intentional or not. This piece was so simple, literally just some dirt and some cloth, and it seemed to get people engaged with it.
Just as the gallery’s title proclaimed, this gallery really seemed to get people to appreciate ordinary, everyday things like dirt and cloth. To me, it felt like it was getting people in touch with their primal instincts, like back to the days when people were hunters and gatherers, or even just allowing them to enjoy a ‘play place’ that they often play in as kids until they become ‘too old’ to do so anymore.