In Spring 2020, graduating fine arts majors experienced a significant disruption to their senior thesis exhibition plans: COVID-19. As the University transitioned to online learning in mid-March in order to keep students, staff, and faculty safe, students planning gallery installations for April and May had to quickly pivot their plans and adapt to shifting timetables. While May graduation was deferred, these students still completed inventive and carefully-conceived thesis projects – albeit within the confines of their own homes and studios. Goodwyn Gallery is pleased to showcase the hard-work of these individuals; we are very proud of them and what they were able to accomplish!
In the spring of 2020, sculpture major Tayler Allen-Galusha created an immersive environment titled “Arm Yourself,” using the basic materials of books, page, and room. Allen-Galusha transformed these items into a fantastical landscape. His sculptural installation invites viewers to traverse this crafted interior space – which simulates a garden, wall, and gate – and “read” meaning from the various elements confined within this space. We catch tantalizing glimpses of bits of text revealed on hanging paper scrolls, words wrapping the semblance of a tree trunk, language masking a sculptural plinth and horse bust, and cubic platforms coated in pages and laid out like stepping stones. Ultimately, “Arm Yourself” asks viewers to consider what worlds are contained within the spine of a book or pages of a text, and how imagination may bring such spaces or places to life. The installation also raises provocative questions about access to language, the futurity of the printed book, and the ways in which we make meaning and construct narratives.
Allen-Galusha describes his process and the inspiration for “Arm Yourself” in his Artist Statement:
Paper. Glue. Thread. Ink. What makes a book is much more than the parts of its construction. The worlds contained within their covers are scrawled in lines and dashes, points and curves, through which these paper vessels find their true form, their shape. Language is said to be universal but this is not true for those with language barriers. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia at age 5, I could barely spell my own name and reading was nearly impossible. 20 years later I still struggle to spell and reading is still an extraordinarily active endeavor that more often than I would like ends in frustration. Hours with a book result in just a few pages of progress but still I gather more. Shelves overflow with books un-cracked and stacks pile on the floor but still I gather more. Page by page and stitch by stitch they become something more, their binding released and so their pages are boundless in their formal possibilities. Folds create shape while glue returns rigidity and what was once sealed within the cover and masked beneath language is brought into the light for all to see, unshrouded by the barriers that bound it in language alone.