At a conventional Honors Research presentation, one can expect carefully organized rows of chairs, a pristine PowerPoint presentation and a straight-laced, sharply dressed Honors student spouting knowledge of graphs and tables. Senior Honors student Emilee Berry, however, will be presenting her research in a slightly more exciting manner.
Berry’s research project will take the form of an interactive art show. The show will open Monday night in Northwestern’s Te Paske Gallery.
Berry is a senior graphic design major and works as Design Editor for the Beacon. However, art wasn’t always on Berry’s radar of interests.
“I actually never really took much for art classes when I was younger,” Berry said. “I thought I was going to do science and math in high school.”
However, during the summer before her freshman year, she spent time painting many murals. That was when she caught the artistic bug.
“That began my desire to do art,” Berry said.
Now a senior majoring in graphic design, Berry feels like she has finally found her artistic niche. For her, art is about more than the finished product.
“My idea of art is the process that goes into it,” Berry said. “A lot of what I do is exploring how art gets to where it is. I try to use unique materials and processes that aren’t normal for a specific medium.”
“Last year for sculpture I made a chandelier out of paperclips; it was wonderful, but took forever,” Berry said.
The art department created space for Berry to hone her unique artistic style. Berry attributes the encouragement for this aesthetic self-exploration to the NW art professors.
“The professors have really different styles, and they encourage you to find your own style and think outside of the box,” Berry said. “They are very willing to give feedback on processes they aren’t familiar with. I will ask Emily Stokes what will happen if I try something new and she will say she has no idea, but to try it anyway.”
Berry truly gets a chance to embrace her out-of-the-box style through her art show.
“The title of my research project was ‘Art Appropriation or Re-contextualization,’” Berry said. “It was the idea of looking at artist who directly take art from other people or use commercial products, and how much they change things.”
Through research, Berry was exposed to artists like Sherry Levine, who photographs pictures, and Andy Warhol, who features subjects such as Campbell’s tomato soup. These artists made her question the threshold of art becoming an artist’s original piece.
“My project was to research the question ‘How much do you have to alter someone else’s work to make it your own?’” Berry said. “I gathered items from yard sales and garage sales and old things found in art building. I took what I found and altered them different amounts. Then I will ask if it is mine.”
By adopting and modifying pictures, furniture and other such mediums, Berry said she wants her audience to have a say in whether or not she should be able to claim the pieces as her own.
“The show is interactive.,” Berry said. I will have numbers by each of the pieces and a sketchbook where I want people to leave comments on whether they think the pieces should be called mine or not.” said Berry.
“It’s been exciting,” Berry said. “I am more confused the more I look into it.”
For Berry, that is the point. When people come to the show, they will be able to enter Berry’s mindset supporting the process of art.
“The show isn’t to answer the question, but instead open it up to thought,” Berry said.
Berry’s show runs Nov. 3-7 with the opening reception on Monday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.