Art has a funny way of seeping into our everyday lives. It can be seen in the tantalizing colors of the autumn leaves, the deafening quiet of a blanket of fresh snow or the crashing of waves against the hot sand.
This year, the Bates College Museum of Art exhibited the art of well-known photographer and artist Jeffery Becton entitled, “The View Out His Window (and mind’s eye): Photographs by Jeffery Becton.”
Though Becton is a well-established artist, his name came into Bates’ orbit via Professor Denise Froehlich of the Art and Visual Culture Department. After receiving his MFA from the Yale School of Art and Architecture, Becton’s career really took off. Over the course of his career, his art has been represented in many different venues including galleries, shows and digital publications.
Walking into the Bates College Museum of Art, the viewer is welcomed by neutral beige walls which are the perfect backdrop. They do not detract from the spectacular artwork hung all around the gallery.
Becton emphasizes that he wanted this show to feature large prints of his work, a different scale than in previous shows. In an interview, Becton stated, “A bigger picture equals more of an emotional connection because [the pieces] take up more space.” This emotional connection is very important in artwork because without connection, the pieces are just images on a wall; the emotionality is what makes art really speak.
This exhibition is comprised of photos dating from 1997 to 2015. Each print is made of many smaller pieces that Becton masterly meshes together. This effect creates almost a dreamscape in which viewers loose themselves. One of the photos, entitled Wharf House, depicts a woman sitting at a table made of waves, and to the left another room is just barely visible. However, that woman never sat at that table, that table was never in that room and the room off to the left isn’t even in this house: it is comprised of layers of different photos molded into one. This collision of images seamlessly knits together to form a coherent image that is very pleasing to the viewer’s eye.
There are many people that go into creating an exhibit such as this. The Education Curator of the Museum, Anthony Shostak, said that he is responsible for “creating and coordinating a wide variety for interpretive programs and strategies.” In other words, Shostak makes sure that the exhibits in the Museum relate to what Bates students are learning.
The Museum here at Bates is an educational museum. Shostak explained, “Other [types of] museums may have other objectives, such as reaching a broad audience, something more like a cultural entertainment experience.” But because the Bates Museum has an educational focus, its goal is “having exhibitions and collections that serve our faculty and students across the disciplines.”
In terms of Becton’s exhibition, Shostak says, “our challenge is then making something as personal as [Becton’s exhibit] be relevant to the Bates curriculum.” Bringing in guest artists is a great way to expand the horizons of the students in the Art and Visual Culture department. Obviously students studying photography would find great inspiration in Becton’s work. However, Shostak noted that “the subject matter and strong narrative quality of his images invite exploration through other lenses, evidenced by Elizabeth Mueller’s Creative Nonfiction class visiting the exhibition and meeting the artists.”
Art as unique as this invites its viewers to find many different meanings through diverse interpretations, and it is relevant to study in many different perspectives. The exhibition is on view until March 26, 2016, and it would be well worth a visit.