The courtyard of Columbia University is breathtaking on the first warm day in the death knell of a relentless winter. Early April on campus, as you may imagine, fills the courtyard with thousands of Columbia students and creates a scene that has been recreated year after year, dating back decades. This is where Jack Kerouac met Allen Ginsberg, and where our current President was educated, amongst a long list of it’s accolades. Needless to say, I can’t help but be intimidated by its sophistication. Presenting my identification to the pleasant campus security officer, I am feeling a bit like a charlatan as he assumes I am a student. This is most likely because of my young looking face and the general disorganization of my unnecessary winter jacket slung over my arms and recently repaired headphones wrapped in neon green duct tape around my neck. I supposed I could be anyone, but today I am here on assignment to cover a travelling art show within the bowels of the Macy Building at Teacher’s College. Upon entering the show, I immediately notice the usual soft arrangement of snack foods on a little table in the center of the room surrounded by the following curious things: a meticulous arrangement of rice paper framed in wood, a giant papier-mache head, a video of trash bag roosters fighting each other, a giant rabbit’s head made with broken colored pencils, and an arrangement of clouds made entirely with zip-ties. This is “Repsychling” an institution of the “An Inclusive World Project”, a nomadic exhibition currently showing at Macy Gallery. We spoke with the curator of the event, Vida Sabbaghi, and found out what she had to say..
NR: How do you pick the artists for this exhibition? VS: I pick the artists based on what the travelling “An Inclusive Word Project Exhibition” theme will be. In this case for “Repsychling”, the theme focused on creative reuse of materials. I chose artists that are part of my COPE NYC programming which “An Inclusive World” project is under. Subsequently, for two years I was a panelist for Call for Bushwick. “Repsychling” contributing artists, Anna K. Lemnitzer, Sui Park and Michela Martello were all participants of the Call for Bushwick project. Call for Bushwick former panelist Borinquen Gallo was also part of the exhibition. Other manifestations of ways to pick artists include working relationships with galleries, as well as extensive familiarity of contemporary artists. NR: What message do you hope reaches the audience? VS: The artists’ inventiveness in creating pieces. More specifically, how one can create a flow amongst very diverse interpretations of an exhibition’s theme. Involving several aspects stimulates great conversations.
NR: The shows are sometimes accompanied by workshops and lectures, allowing the audience to increase their involvement in the show if they so wish. Do you find that more involvement in the process allows for better understanding of the works themselves? VS: Yes absolutely. The other day contributing artist Chin Chih Yang of “Repsychling”, did a demonstration for Columbia University students, many who are studying art education. Chin showed how he preps for his exquisite installations with cans. Students were provided special scissors to cut aluminum cans as well as using the artist’s tool he designed to crush cans. Afterwards they adorned Chin’s body with their work. This introduced another level of understanding about the artist’s use of materials as well as a deeper appreciation of how much work goes into one piece. Writing and interview by Nick Rogers Photography provided by the gallery and Jamie Martinez