ArtLab at the Art Museum at the University of Memphis (AMUM) marks its 10th anniversary just as the university celebrates 100 years in the community. Started by a group within the AMUM board, ArtLab was created to showcase works from young, budding artists and those looking to experiment within 485 square feet of white, open space.
The room is available to any artists — and not strictly limited to University of Memphis students — who get their prospectus approved by the board. ArtLab organizers review proposals four times a year, with exhibitions scheduled for approximately four weeks. They provide staff support as necessary, an opening reception for the exhibit — usually coinciding with a main gallery opening — and a $250 honorarium upon the project's completion.
The pieces are almost always installations that take up the entire space, museum director Leslie Luebbers says. ArtLab provides a forum for works-in-progress and nonmainstream ideas. Activities in the venue are geared toward the stimulation of artistic discourse.
Currently occupying the space is "Sitting Still Revisited," which is something of a break from the norm because it's a re-examining of a project involving student input, to honor the university's centennial.
"Sitting Still: Contemplative and Creative Responses to Our World" debuted in 2008. The collaborative video project, produced and directed by Syracuse University associate professor and artist Anne Beffel, resulted in a long-distance exchange between art students from the University of Memphis, Syracuse, and the artist.
Beffel prompted her pupils to sit perfectly still, contemplate their surroundings, and then capture captivating yet stationary scenes for three minutes at a time from a camera fixed on a tripod. The videos were then placed side-by-side and projected onto the inner wall of the gallery to recreate an original space of introspective consideration.
"Sitting Still Revisited" splices together parallel still shots that retain an active, living, and moving quality. There is a reverence to the obscure images of the wind's effect on an object, traffic passing a small section of curb, reflections on and through glass ... all flowing at a constant, even pace.
"Sitting Still Revisited" closes on January 8th, and the following show in ArtLab will deviate from the usual programming as well, with AMUM's 29th Annual Juried Student Exhibition, judged by Barbara MacAdam, deputy editor at ARTnews. The competitive art exhibition, which will run through March 10th, is open to eligible students for all media. An ArtLab Award, among others, provides a cash prize as well as the ArtLab gallery space to the winning artist. The opening reception will take place on February 3rd, from 5 to 7 p.m., with awards announced at 6 p.m.
Also ongoing until January 7th in AMUM's main gallery is the wonderful tribute to former professors, "Memories: Richard Knowles and Steve Langdon." The exhibition is a stunning collection of paintings and drawings from both artists, who each guided the university's art students for more than 30 years. Knowles' and Langdon's works will move those whose lives were touched by the artists and offer exceptional examples of their two approaches to art.
The close of the year will hopefully see the obnoxiously employed catchphrase "winning!" hurled into the dustbin of pop culture. But we're going toss it out just one last time to describe the Memphis Flyer's Art Box Project. The long and short of it: Selected artists give some of the paper's more beat-up boxes an extreme makeover. We get cool-looking boxes; the artist gets a party, prizes, and exposure. See? It's win-win. Hence, winning!
Fifteen designs showcasing the work of selected artists will be placed around the city at key locations to contribute to Memphis' growing collection of public art. All types of artists are welcome to apply, whether amateur or professional, surrealist or graffiti. Artists will be chosen in early February, with a launch party set for March to reveal the designs. After the launch party, the boxes will be on display around town throughout 2012.