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‘...maybe our wasted past’: local art exhibition uses nostalgic items as artistic medium



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The "...maybe our wasted past" exhibition is located at 605 N.h Fairview St. The series will be at the I FELL community gallery in Bloomington through the end of February. Courtesy Photo

Bloomington-based art gallery NOISE exhibits a collection of art inspired by discarded objects and nostalgia. The series will be up at the I FELL community gallery in Bloomington through the end of February.

The exhibition, titled ‘...maybe our wasted past’, uses a variety of artwork to create a collection that reflects on the way artists and audiences perceive their relationship with the past, said Raphael Cornford co-founder and curator of the NOISE gallery. Artistic mediums used in the exhibit include printmaking, drawing, painting, jewelry, fiber arts, video, sculpture, compost, digital art, fire and reclaimed plastic. 

Cornford said he and fellow curator Natasha Heines were inspired by their mutual collection of nostalgic items from the 1980s and '90s.

“I think it’s really easy, when you’re looking at nostalgic objects, to only think about them in the context of the past,” Cornford said. “This show was a challenge to ourselves and to our interests to use the past to think about possibility.” 

After each receiving an MFA degree, Cornford, a trained printmaker, and co-founder Bill Bass, a photographer, began the NOISE project in their garage in 2016. The duo has now moved out of its original space and curates shows not only at I FELL, but also at other universities in and in its own spaces around Bloomington.

“We’re both really invested in contemporary art as a whole,” Cornford said. “As we’ve gained experience we’ve learned more about stuff outside of what we were taught to curate more diverse shows.”

The gallery features a variety of artists from across the continent, including local artist Andrew Polk. A few of Polk’s pieces include his work that was burned in a fire at his art studio in 1996.

“The other work is gone,” Polk said. “I wouldn’t say I like them more than earlier work, but there is something really nice about these. They’re like artifacts.”

Polk, who graduated from IU in the 1970s, worked at the University of Arizona before recently moving back to Bloomington. Two of his new lithographic pieces were inspired by Bloomington's landscape and history. 

“I meet my neighbors, and I learn that many of these people have lived here for generations,” Polk said. “There is so much history here.”

Co-curator Rose Hardin said much of the artwork focused on the concept of storytelling.

“We look at what is actually happening within the objects,” Harding said. 

The gallery will run through the end of February at the I FELL building at 415 W. Fourth St. in Bloomington.

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