Repurposes is now installed and open to the public in the Changing Gallery of the Baron and Ellin Gordon Galleries at Old Dominion University. The show website (still in progress) can be found here. A listing of the artists, with links to their websites can also be found below, after the show statement. (Artists marked with an asterisk are web contributors and their work can be found at the link).
Repurposes is an exhibition representing themes of reexamination and reengagement of personal and public convictions. In a time of historic change and challenge—politically, economically, technologically—how do we remake our world and ourselves?
It is a longstanding belief that progress comes from the new—new ideas, new purchases, new media. But what if the answers are already with us? A different perspective is to work with what we have: to reclaim and reconsider. Instead of crafting new principles for how we should regard our world and ourselves, we might first rehabilitate meanings that have been lost or disfigured. Due to misuse and distortion, many terms have been drained of meaning (“liberal,” “conservative, ” “original,” “reality”). A cynical response has been the abandonment of not only the words but also the underlying ideals.
Specifically, artists must also face the overproduction of material culture and its implications for our self and the environment. How might we employ and transform the abundant objects and imagery that already exists? Might we go beyond a simple material-based “recycling” effort to employ the symbolism inherent in material culture? Could “improper” or unexpected expressions and uses may bring revelation?
The work selected for this exhibition takes many perspectives on Repurposing. The most common expression of the repurposing ideal here is through the adaptation of previously used (“recycled”) materials into new forms. However, even in this repurposing, the nature of the transformation and the significance of the initial item or use differs. Some make explicit commentary on relevant topics such as consumerism and waste, while others subtly promote the message of repurposing through the aesthetic pleasure to be derived from the resulting work. Many do both. In addition to transforming materials, there is also work that renovates language and imagery. Words and conversation (both private and commercial) are subject to conversion—to prompt the audience’s conversion to a new way of regarding communication.
The idea of repurposing is evident in the form of the works described above. However, for others, the generating impulse is not as apparent. The repurposing is in the biography, the experience of the artist. The beliefs that we can reconnect with are multiform and subtle.
Repurposing of any kind, expressed in any manner, is ultimately purposing. Examination—and reexamination—of meaning and purpose is always advantageous. Especially if that study leads to action on the convictions we recover or discover.