Each year, the University of Kentucky Art Department Faculty Show becomes a bigger challenge to present because there are more faculty every year, .
"This is the biggest faculty show we've ever had," says Theo Edmonds, a graduate student in the art department and director of the Tuska Center for Contemporary Art, where the show opened Thursday and will continue through Feb. 19. "I think this is also the most multimedia we've ever had."
Among the multimedia pieces are a video projection by Valerie Sullivan Fuchs called Sisyphus that is meant to be shown on the viewer's hand; and Benjamin Thorpe's Through a Glass Darkly, a window with the holes filled in with strips of audio cassette accompanied by the sound that is on the cassette.
"I believe it was recorded outside his window at his home," says assistant professor of intermedia Dima Strakovsky, who is organizing the faculty show. "We had talked about the idea of having a live feed from his house."
The faculty show features an expanding staff getting more adventurous in its exploration of contemporary art. The show is a time to celebrate that, Edmonds and Strakovsky say. The exhibit is made up of pieces the faculty members select. Most were created before the show, though some faculty make pieces for the show.
"The most interesting thing is the conversations you can have as a group about the group when it's all in one place," Edmonds says. "When you're in your own studio, you're kind of talking about your work, and when you're in someone else's studio, you're talking about their work. Here, the conversation becomes about UK as a whole, the art department as a whole and what we're doing as a group, and those kinds of opportunities are an opportunity for growth.
"Any time we can talk about the 'we,' those are opportunities for institutional growth."
From the faculty perspective, Strakovsky says the show is a chance to engage with the students as artists.
"I'm not going to talk about my own work in class," he says. "It's unethical, and it's not very useful. But this is a chance to engage with the students in a different way, particularly the undergraduates who really view you as this teacher person. They can see, 'Oh, yeah, this is a living, breathing artist and this is what they're doing.'"
In numerous cases, they are living, breathing artists who are engaged in the contemporary art world well beyond Lexington. Edmonds says a forum such as the faculty show can be a chance to test-drive pieces that might go on to exhibits in major metropolitan areas like New York and Chicago.
Edmonds points to faculty such as multimedia artist Doreen Maloney, fiber artist Arturo Sandoval, mixed-media artist Ebony G. Patterson and Strakovsky, saying, "Wherever you go in the contemporary art world, you are going to have people playing in these major metropolitan arenas and major conversations coming back here to Lexington and working together. And it's a wonderful thing because not all regional universities have that sort of thing."