Too Busy for Art?

If you’ve ever been on the DC Metro or any other sort of public transit system, you recognize the peddlers at the entrances trying to whatever they have in stock—food, newspapers, flowers, etc. Their business strategy is understandable: “be in the place with the most traffic and you’re bound to sell something”; yet despite the massive flows of people coming and going, you hardly see people clamoring to buy. Why have you never stopped to buy food or flowers or newspapers? Maybe you really don’t need those things, or maybe you’re in a rush and down have time to slow down.

A similar phenomenon occurs right here in the Stamp Gallery. Although this space is located in the hub of campus life—the Stamp Student Union—our steady flow of visitors pales in comparison to the sheer volume of people who pass through this building. Understandably, not everyone who visits Stamp is looking for a gallery experience, and in fact many passersby are so absorbed in their own goals to take a look inside this space. However, experiencing art is not necessarily pursued, but discovered.

Our glass walls allow passersby to catch glances of the work hung in the gallery, and over the past few years I’ve seen people stop in their tracks, becoming engrossed in the exhibition from afar. This reaction is particularly visible in our current show, as people stop and stare at Brandon Chambers’ video piece, Reviling of Pleasing Corruptions from beyond the glass. Some of enter the space, others move on, but despite the physical barrier between themselves and the work, they all participate in the experience. For those who say they aren’t interested in art or don’t have enough time, let the artwork catch your eye the next time you walk by the Stamp Gallery; even that fleeting moment of confusion, revulsion, or awe is enough.

Written by Christopher Bugtong.


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