Playing with Images of Work & Worth

Playing with Images of Work & Worth was group curated by the students in Dr. Slipp’s VISU 3600/6600: Museum Studies class. The artworks are drawn from the Fine Arts Department collection and are organized around ideas of work and play. Students collaborated on the overall theme, title, and writing of the introductory text, researched specific works and wrote texts for our gallery guide, agreed upon the arrangement and layout of the gallery, and hung the works together. Finally, the students also designed interactive activities, which seek to encourage visitors to reconsider their ideas about work and play and relate the exhibition theme to their own lives. A social media hashtag #museumwerq and a public Spotify playlist – “Work & Worth” (posted by The Oncler) – allow the exhibition to reach a wider audience. Finally, on March 27, April 10, and April 17, between 10:50-11:30 a.m. students will lead personalized 10-minute guided tours. Playing with Images of Work & Worth is open to the public March 25 – April 18, 2019.

As the students explain in their introductory text, this exhibition asks the question: what is work and what is play? We urge you to toss away the readily available answer that “work is something one gets paid to do,” and instead contemplate the idea that work and play are interchangeable. Building a bridge, digging a ditch, or playing a song on a flute can be examples of play or work depending on how we value a particular activity. Some think of work as separate from play, but is it? We ask you to consider whether career-related activities are also forms of “play,” which encourage imagination and personal amusement. We also query whether recreational activities could not be considered a method of producing or accomplishing a goal, thus being “work.” This exhibit consequently encourages critique, confirmation, and connection between audience perspectives about work, play, and worth – both monetary and personal.


gallery 3

The 24 prints on view encourage the audience to contemplate the ways different cultures value certain activities. As you walk through the gallery, more typical forms of work – such as Man with Logs by Joseph Hirsch or Hammering the Woodplanks by Hans Grohs – give us a glimpse of hardship, while The Clown by Bernard Buffet, Guitarista by Luis Cajiga, and The Flute Player by Marc Chagall show work as play and entertainment. Finally, Jack Coughlin’s prints of Walt Whitman and Sean O’Casey, who was the first to write about the Dublin working classes, illustrate literary work.

Ultimately, you should exit the exhibition asking: what do work, play, and worth mean to you?

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