Foster Gallery features “Unusual Message”

64 artists from 12 countries find inspiration in everyday items


Photo by Anya Yurkonis

The “Unusual Message” exhibit is on display through Oct. 2 and is free for the public in the Foster Gallery.

Art can be found in all forms throughout the city of Eau Claire. Through music, performances and, in this recent art installation, even a sheep skull can be considered art.

Associate Lecturer Amanda Bulger said the exhibit’s “Unusual Message” was originally curated by Martin R. Baeyens, a professor at the Eatern Mediterranean University. Baeyens aimed to highlight the work of artists across North America, Asia and Europe.

“He had this idea to reach out to several different universities in various countries to get a breath of different types of knowledge from artists to contribute to the ‘Unusual Message’ project,” Bulger said.

Madelain Adrian, a first-year biology student, said as someone who is not active in the art community, “Unusual Message” opened her eyes to the variety of outlets artists can use to convey meaning.

“(The art) is interesting because it makes ordinary people who are not necessarily well versed in art be able to relate to everyday things,” Adrian said. “People can then interpret their own meaning of what the objects are.”

According to the Eastern Mediterranean University, artists took inspiration from common objects to help audiences see the images in a new way.

Bulger said the exhibit came to Eau Claire from the original curator’s contacts with Hyungjoo A. Kim, the previous assistant professor of art and design.

“There are 64 different participants,” Bulger said. “Three of them were or currently are professors at the University, (such as) professors Ned Gannon and Jyl Kelley from art and design.”

Adrian said she did not know anything about the exhibit originally, but imagined the art would take on an obscure approach that average people would not expect.

“I didn’t even know what the title was called,” Adrian said. “Now the exhibit makes you think and puts meaning onto objects that were otherwise pretty standard.”

Bulger said the current Eau Claire professors took inspiration from the original objects to help audiences see the images in a new way.

“The objects that they chose from were an owl, a ring, moonlight, a book, olive tree leaves, a sheep skull, dragons, an egg, the at  symbol (@) and a paperclip,” Bulger said. “Kind of a wide variety of objects.”

Adrian said she appreciates having access to an open art installation directly on campus.

“This exhibit encourages people to step out of their comfort zone a little bit. If you are not someone who normally is into these kinds of things, it is cool to check it out,” Adrian said. “Maybe it will make you think a little more and experience new kinds of emotions.”

Bulger said one of the most rewarding elements of holding an exhibit like “Unusual Message” is the ability to feel interconnected with people’s culture from around the world.

“All too often we have ideas about certain things and feel unwilling to change out ideas or look at things from a new perspective,” Bulger said. “(Unusual Message) opens up doors for people to talk to each other about different types of life.”

Adrian said she is inspired to learn more about alternate forms of art besides what she is comfortable viewing and encourages other students to do the same.

“I don’t really look at the materialistic styles of art like paintings, sculptures and objects,” Adrian said. “This is something that is cool, interesting and not what I would have expected from an art exhibit.”

While Bulger did not have much say in the creative process of “Unusual Message,” she said the journey her fellow colleagues shared was fun to experience and hopes others will learn from their work.

“I think the greatest opportunity for people to learn about the creative process would be to come to the artist talk,” Bulger said. “It would offer great insight to how and why they created their pieces and possibly what they may choose to do in the future after having done this project.”

The artist talk is free and open to the public at 10 a.m. on Sept. 27 inside Haas Fine Arts Center.

Nelson can be reached at [email protected].