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New Art Gallery Makes An Impact
Nina McGowan '16 Senior Writer
September 16, 2015

During the last days of summer, when students across the world prepared to return to the Valley, the von Auersperg Gallery prepared for the installation of the exhibit “Human Impact.”  Comprised of both photography and sculptures, the exhibit, curated by Fine Arts Teacher Tim Trelease, will be open from September 20th to October 20th in the Hess Center.

Fortress of Solitude, Antarctica, 2005, by Sebastiao Salgado.
Fortress of Solitude, Antarctica, 2005, by Sebastiao Salgado.

The exhibition was inspired by the popular “Unconventional Beauty” assignment in Mr. Trelease’s photography classes. Mr. Trelease always introduces the assignment with a short clip from the film American Beauty, in which a character explains the most beautiful thing he had ever seen: a plastic bag carried by the wind, dancing in a deserted alley.

Trelease captured the spirit of the project by saying, “It’s the poetic beauty behind things. It’s looking for unconventional beauty, like a cigarette box in a puddle or some graffiti, and elevating these ugly things into beautiful things.”

The upcoming show will highlight the notion of unconventional beauty, incorporating a sense of social consciousness to answer the daunting question, “What impact are we having on this planet that we all share?”

To respond to this question, Trelease created his “wishlist” of artwork that explores the emerging cultural crossroad regarding the effects of the population on urban condition, urban life, water and sustainability. With the exception of a Richard Misrach photograph, generously lent to the Academy by a Deerfield family, the works of art are on loan from the various galleries  that represent the artists.

Lost in My Life (Fruit Stickers with Wax Paper), 2014, by Rachel Perry Welty
Lost in My Life (Fruit Stickers with Wax Paper), 2014, by Rachel Perry Welty

Each of the artists in the forthcoming exhibit approaches the unifying theme of human impact in a different way. Award-winning Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado, for example, captures the pure, untouched natural beauty of the polar ice caps. His photograph provokes the haunting question, “How much longer is this going to be?”

The photographer Andrew Moore offers another perspective. He photographs abandoned and dilapidated buildings all over the world, suggesting the detachment and wastefulness of human beings.

Although the show is predominantly photographs, it includes several sculptures, which will be centered on the floor of the gallery. The exhibition also includes the work of Rachel Perry Welty, Brian Vanden Brink, Tim Feresten, Harriet Diamond and Rebecca Muller.

With the opening of the exhibit quickly approaching, Trelease hopes to provide his photography classes with as much information about the artists and exhibit as possible. Several students, including Lily Louis ’18, Lulu Fanjul ’18 and Rachel Yao ’16 will return to the gallery as tour guides. Trelease also hopes to organize student interviews with the artists this fall.

Abandoned House, by Brian Vanden Brink
Abandoned House, by Brian Vanden Brink

Even  though the exhibit will close in October, the von Auersperg Gallery will be filled with a student  “Human Impact”  art show this spring. The artwork will  not  be limited to only Deerfield students—all art students from private schools in the Northeast are invited to participate.

Trelease said, “I want this show to be a catalyst for inspiration. In whatever way [the student-artists] are inspired and in any medium, we’ll find a way for their work to be in the exhibit.”

The forthcoming “Human Impact” exhibit will offer the Deerfield community the opportunity to see astonishing artwork, inviting viewers to contemplate the profound relationship—and subsequent responsibility—that exists between humans and the earth.