Sculptors interact with attendees through exhibit



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Grace and Bobbie Saccone get their faces touched by BFA students as the students attempt to sculpt their faces. Grace said her sister is one of the students making the sculpure. Tiantian Zhang Buy Photos

Upon entering the McCalla building, viewers could see a temporary wall with two pairs of holes at face height that was recently constructed.

It concealed a part of the room. A makeshift conveyor belt ran between both sides of ?the wall.

Attendees participated in a study of art and interaction.

Thirteen sculpture BFAs hosted “Double Blind,” an interactive exhibit where they created busts without seeing their subjects, ?Friday night.

But senior Nelson Kaufman said that was a good thing.

Though some of the students have done similar work, none were invasive, he said.

Kaufman said it could be difficult to get people to interact because they would be letting a stranger who they couldn’t see touch their face for a full minute.

“There has to be an element of humor,” Kaufman said.

Though the process looks and feels strange, it is a serious project for the sculptors, he said.

As participants approached the wall, they stared at two black sleeves facing them.

A whistle blew and two hands popped out, seeking out a volunteer’s face. In two minutes, the artist created a mental image that they sculpted and sent out on the conveyor.

The hands moved through the participant’s hair, forehead and ears then they made their way down the nose and cheeks.

After a minute, another whistle blew and the hands retreated into the wall.

As people laughed and spoke as their faces were researched by the arms, the whistle continued to start and stop the observation period until the conveyor belt released the first two fist-sized faces.

Senior Rose Harding said this exhibit was a way for the students to interact with people directly, despite neither party being able to see the other.

“It’s very intimate,” she said.

For some of the students, this was their first gallery show and performance, she said.

“Everybody works very hard,” Harding said.

In the beginning of the semester, the group decided on this exhibit because it would provide a unique, active experience, ?Harding said.

“It was a chance for us to work together,” she said.

Harding said the opportunity to put on this exhibit was a valuable one for the students.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said.

Freshman Gianna Bennett said she was hesitant to approach the wall.

“I (was) just afraid they’ll hit me at first,” she said.

It’s similar to how people might imagine the way a blind person feels an object to create an image in his mind, she said.

Before her sculpture came out, she said she expected she would recognize it by the thick bun in her hair and her eyebrows and nose.

When the conveyor belt began moving again, it carried two faces. One had a thick bun on the back of its head.

“It reminds me of something ancient,” she said.

She picked it up, saying the sculptor recreated her face ?accurately.

“That’s pretty cool,” she said.

When IU alum Timothy Patton stepped up to the wall, he opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue.

The hands searched around, realized what he was doing and wiped themselves dry on his face.

He said he never did anything like this while he was at IU. Soon, an open-mouthed face with its tongue out rolled down the belt.

“That looks exactly like me,” Patton said excitedly, turning to his friends to take a picture with the bust.

At the halfway point of the night, hands stuck out of the arm holes and waved goodbye to the participants, asking them to leave so the students could switch ?places.

Once all the participants were ushered out into the hallway to socialize, the sculptors still inside high-fived and waited to discuss the first half of the night.

Junior Abby Saccone said that though the exercise sounded easy in theory, the implementation of the sculpting was actually really difficult.

“It’s actually pretty darn tense,” Saccone said.

She said this kind of work was beneficial to the students because it challenged them to do something unusual and work under time constraints with ?active subjects.

One man thought it would be funny to let her feel his face with his beer at his lips, and because the bottle was difficult to make so quickly, she said she had ?to adjust.

From the other side of the wall, she heard a voice say, “I held a beer in my mouth and they gave me a pacifier. It’s pretty much the same thing.”

During the event, some sculptors smiled slyly to themselves as they set down their work and wiped their hands clean ?between sets.

As the busts neared completion, the artists pounded the busts’ heads heavily once or twice on the table or floor to flatten the back. This eased how they slid out on the conveyor belt.

Clay stuck to the hair, eyebrows and clothes of the sculptors as they reached the end of a relay race of production.

Kaufman said the turnout was great, with dozens of people passing through during the night.

“I think it’s to try to bridge the gap between the art and the ?viewer,” Kaufman said.

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