Student-run art exhibition supplements Foggy Bottom’s TED Talks series

Media Credit: Deepa Shivaram | Hatchet Photographer

Freshman Ian Tang places a balloon in TEDxFoggyBottom's installation in the "Illuminate!" exhibition. Visitors were encouraged to engage with the artwork by writing something that inspires them on a red balloon.

Red balloons hang from fishing lines marked with black writing in a spiral inside Gallery 102. “My friends” is scribbled across one balloon, floating among over a dozen examples of what illuminates the writer’s mind.

The balloon spire is part of a student-run interactive exhibition – “Illuminate!” – that supplements the upcoming TEDxFoggyBottom conference in February. Junior Brian Doyle, organizer of TEDxFoggyBottom, collaborated with Gallery 102 so that the event spread ideas not only through inspirational talks but also through student artwork.

“We wanted it to be something that sort of provoked thought and that was broad enough to where it could encompass a lot of different fields, but specific enough to where people think about it more deeply,” Doyle said. “We want to shed light on different ideas and adventures and different community stories that this area has to share.”

Now, with an exhibition open to students and the public, the dialogue can begin four months ahead of TEDxFoggyBottom.

“Illuminate!” features eight student pieces that encourage viewers to ponder and question the themes and concepts based on the theme of illumination. TEDxFoggyBottom wanted to elevate the exhibition by adding an interactive component and contributed their piece, inSPIRE, where it invites the public to come into the gallery and write their ideas and inspirations on a red balloon.

Curator Roxanne Goldberg said this is her first time curating an all-student art exhibit, as she usually works with professional artists in the area.

“We’re inviting students and faculty to come into the gallery – to take a balloon, blow it up themselves and then write an idea or inspiration that they might have to help us build this,” Goldberg said, adding the goal is to complete the spiral by the end of the three-week exhibition.

Christie Malvin, a senior majoring in fine arts and art history, hoped that her eight-minute video that shows the repetition of quarters spinning randomly throughout time will provoke the audience to think about their lives in relation to time. Her piece, “Fore Godot,” is one of two interactive, audio-visual pieces on display.

“I wanted the viewer to lose their sense of time because a large emphasis of the piece is on the present moment,” Malvin said. “My idea was waiting, and it goes into a broader concept of our perception of time, and there is a lot of ability for dialogue in that respect.”

The exhibition is open in Gallery 102 during business hours through Nov. 15. Tuesday night’s opening reception for “Illuminate!” highlighted student artists and served as a kick off campaign for TEDxFoggyBottom to announce its first five speakers for the Feb. 7 conference: Nicole Lynn Lewis, Phil Kaye, Priyanka Pardasani, Bill McShea and Usman Riaz. The remaining 15 speakers will be announced leading up to the series.

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