I went to the Birdsell Project: A Student Art Reception on January 22 at the Commerce Center in downtown South Bend. This event was a unique and progressive way of combining the local and student communities in South Bend while making use of abandoned spaces and repurposing environments. As stated on their event invitation this particular collaboration between the Birdsell Project and the University of Notre Dame brought “four Notre Dame art classes [who] worked alongside their professors to create a series of work responding to site, history, and material.” The basement of the commerce center was once a power plant and a health club… and definitely has the strangeness that comes with that combination. The overall event had a very good turnout and offered the kind of energy that was needed to properly take in all the various installations that have transformed this basement.
The art itself ranged from bizarre and uncomfortable to interactive and fun. While some of the art juxtaposed its location and environment others responded to it in very deep and reflexive manners. I generally really loved weaving my way through the crowds of people and finding the nooks and crannies of this run-down basement that had been given a new life through installation. Some of it, however, was a bit disturbing and had a lot of shock value. The array of installations and personalities displayed within this event sometimes overloaded my sensory capacity and left me feeling somewhat overwhelmed. There were light installations, drawing installation, mixed media installations, music installations and many more, which was surprising given the amount of space the basement actually took up.
This event was very relevant to our installation class because it demonstrated the wide variety of ways you can install and respond to a given space as well as the variety of materials (and relatively cheap materials at that) you can you to successfully convey a message and repurpose a space for the sake of artistic creation.