An artfully obstructed view

Art obstructions have taken over Classroom 102.

The collection, “Obstruction,” is designed and curated by the undergraduate students in the art history class, “The Art of the Exhibition,” and features work from students at The School Without Walls.

“The exhibition was originally inspired by Classroom 102 itself. The space has an unconventional layout with an imposing diagonal wall running through its center. This wall obstructs multiple viewpoints in the gallery, making it impossible for visitors and even passerbys to view all the space’s artworks at once,” freshman Madeline Bouton, one of two project managers who helped organize the exhibit, said. 

The artwork was collected over a five week period with the exhibition installed Nov. 6 in Classroom 102. 

“All of the featured art in the show deals with different ‘obstructions’ or barriers that act as obstacles in life. These can represent any type of physical, psychological, ideological, political or personal barriers,” assistant professor Bibiana Obler said.

The pieces are scattered throughout the exhibit space, forcing guests to look at all parts of the room to get the full effect the different artwork in its entirety. The installation includes various mediums, ranging from photography to ceramics and drawing, as well as a performance piece and video. 

Students had expected that procuring enough artwork would be their biggest challenge, but ultimately found that deciding where to hang each piece in relation to the rest of the exhibit was the most challenging aspect. 

“It was difficult to decide which pieces looked good together on a wall, across from another piece, etc. Also, due to the fact that some of the artwork is displayed in unique ways, it was challenging to figure out how best to hang the piece without damaging the art,” freshman Meghan Bernstein said.

The class is meant to mimic real-world decisions made when curating a gallery. The bulk of class time is spent learning firsthand from museum professionals while on visits around D.C. JoVaun M. Holmes is both enrolled in the class and an artist featured in the show. Younger than his fellow GW classmates, Holmes is a 16-year-old student at The School Without Walls, taking courses at GW as part of an early college program. His connection served as a bridge between the two schools and enabled the class to solicit submissions from the local high school.

“I’ve been really pleased with how things are going, even though there have been some ups and downs, some bumps on the road, because I have the sense that the students are learning a ton about what goes into an exhibition. The bumps have gotten them to think critically about the process,” Obler said. 

“Obstruction” is open until Dec. 2 in Classroom 102 in the Smith Hall of Art.

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