Arts & Culture / Mosaic / April 9, 2008

Art for art’s sake

Alissa Calderon is not your average CFA art student. She describes herself as a publisher and editor, who is majoring in creative writing with only a minor in painting, and decided to embark on a project that caused quite the stir within the art department.

Rather than hindering her, these differences have actually aided Calderon in creating a unique piece to present for her senior art show. The show featured an art piece Calderon worked on all last term in open studio, and is the first in a series of senior art show to be presented this term.

Calderon’s art show featured only one piece, a giant tree installed in the aux gym.

“Made with natural and artificially materials,” Cauldron used scrap objects and “regular branches [which she] treated as materials, not as natural forms,” said Calderon.

Her piece is not static, its aesthetic changed over last term as the art piece morphed with the additions of materials.

“All the different things put together give you an idea of a tree,” said Calderon.

Calderon was inspired to create a tree after she watched the trees at sunset.

“All the trees are an off-black, behind them is the sunset, a huge mural of all these different colors,” Calderon said.

She captured this beauty in a sketch she did of a tree with many tiny trees around it, the sketch that later went on to inspire her piece.

She described her art as an additive performance piece, where by the audience becomes “part of the piece,” she said. The audience was allowed to explore the piece through a guided tour led by Calderon. She took them through four different check points along

the tour where the audience was then allowed to wear costumes and objects, leaving behind something of their own. When they reach the tree they have been enmeshed in stimuli.

It is an “experience of the senses,” Calderon said, it “relates to their bodies in interesting ways…it makes you want to reach out and touch it.”

In this way Calderon was able to create art that is “in relation to the body.” She explained that her art is “really an unorthodox experience.”

The transformative nature of Calderon’s work has posed challenges to her and sparked criticism and misunderstanding from others. When she ran her project within the art department she had some very successful shows and some very unsuccessful shows.

Part of the difference in Calderon’s art from her peers is that Calderon is coming from the background of creative writing. She explained that the creative writing department’s “vocab and values were completely different” from that of art department. “I was really saddened by how closed minded people were to autotelic art, that is art for arts sake,” she said, disappointed at the demand for justification of her art through some deep meaning.

Calderon first became interested in pursuing art at Knox after taking classes with Tony Gant. Gant’s classes were “more about discovering. [Things like] how your eye works, how you view things.”

Klayr Valentine-Fossum

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