By Laura Weyman, Staff Writer
On Saturday Feb. 10, the Jepson Center opened its doors after hours to all college students, with no charge for admission. In addition to having access to Jepson’s permanent and temporary exhibits, various unique tours and fun activities were offered.
Llana Samuel, the Public Relations Coordinator, stated that their motivation for organizing such an event was “to get college students more engaged and incite more awareness of the art amongst the young adult community.” According to Samuel, this is only the second College Night they have ever hosted and although there is no guarantee for this to be an ongoing tradition, she said, “we hope to be able to host more of these events in the future.”
During this function, Art Curator, Rachel Reese, and Interpretation and Audience Engagement Coordinator, Stephanie Raines, both led unique tours of the two temporary exhibits, Paul Stephen Benjamin: “Reinterpreting the Sound of Blackness” and Carrie Mae Weems: “Sea Islands Series”. Both conceptual exhibitions are driven by strong narratives of race and identity and both hold elements of poetry, though each are expressed through different mediums.
“Reinterpreting the Sound of Blackness” is composed of large sound and video installations that include elements of pop-culture, history, and text. With this exhibit, Benjamin attempts to investigate the idea of the color black as sound. The Telfair website describes Benjamin’s motives as the following: “This simple entry point of the ‘color black’ or the ‘sound of black’ is used to explore the complexities, politics, poetics, and subjectivities of racial identity – whether stereotyped, projected, or self-identified.”
At the top of the wide Jepson stairs, a large-scale, entirely black American flag, stood outside the door of the Weems and Benjamin exhibits. Aretha Franklin’s voice singing “God Bless America” permeated through the closed doors and throughout the 3rd floor. In the Steward South gallery, numerous TVs were sculpturally arranged against the wall . Their flashing red and blue screens displayed continuous loops of Franklin’s performance, as well as various other famous African-American faces such as, Lil Wayne and Billie Holiday.
In the Kane Gallery, there was a series of 38 gelatin silver photographs surrounded by poetic text panels. This room displayed Carrie Mae Weems’, “Sea Island Series”. Weems is considered one of America’s most influential contemporary artists. This series was inspired by a trip she took around the Savannah area 25 years ago. She came across Sea Island’s Gullah society, which has been called, “the most African of American cultures” due to the islands isolation from the period of slavery, onward. Throughout this body of work, Weems explores the society’s spiritual and cultural life. This was some of her earliest work, and according to Raines, it has always been Weems intention to eventually exhibit it in the place it was created.
In addition to these two exhibitions, students had the chance to experience interactive art displays in the Lewis Gallery and get a taste of virtual reality through two video installations. The second floor held various other digital and interactive exhibitions, as well as, “Artmaking” in the drop-in studio, where students could sit down with their friends, craft art pieces, and take home their creations.
If you missed College Night or Super Museum Sunday, you may still have a chance to see the current Jepson exhibits. Telfair Museums offers student memberships for only 25 dollars per year. The price of a one-time entrance ticket is 15 dollars, but for 10 more dollars students can have access to any of the three Telfair locations for an entire year.
The “Sea Islands Series” and “Reinterpreting the Sound of Blackness” will both be at the Jepson Center until May 6.