December 15, 2020–February 28, 2021
All day event.
"mindOfA" is an online-only exhibition of student artwork from Modern & Contemporary Art Practices (fall 2020), a course taught by Ken Fandell, professor of art and Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson Chair in Arts and Humanities at Harvey Mudd College.
Students made works in response to the readings of art historical references and the assignments given in conjunction to create initial and final manifestos of art, readymades, monochromes, performances, video art, and techno art. As a result, nearly 400 works were produced; and about half are featured in the exhibition.
During the review of each work for selection, a few core qualities about the students became apparent: first, they are exceedingly well versed and equipped in science and technology; second, they are uncommonly honest and fearless to keep in their statements and stories all traces of thoughts and emotions, conflicting or not, and to be guided by them; and lastly, they are highly responsive to react and experiment using the things around them. The combination of such qualities may be unique to the students, most of whose majors and backgrounds involve STEM education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics holistically embraced by Harvey Mudd College with an emphasis on humanities, social sciences, and the arts – and to the post-millennial generation.
The exhibition opens with a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke. In a letter dated Feb. 17, 1903, Rilke advises a young poet:
So rescue yourself from ... general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty—describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place. (Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, 1929; Translated by Stephen Mitchell, 1984)
The young poet was Franz Xaver Kappus, a 19-year-old military student at the time of his correspondences with Rilke and “on the threshold of a profession ... to be entirely opposed to ... [his] inclinations” (Stephen Mitchell’s foreword, 1984).
Whether the mind of any student would resonate with the mind of the young poet in a sense of opposition cannot be assumed. What is seen from the works in the exhibition, however, is that different inclinations could be used to the advantage of art-making; and opposition, if any, would be only one of the many elements to serve raw trials and multiplicity. As Rilke adds in the tenth and final letter to the young poet, “art too is just a way of living.” Most obviously, if one is a scientist, one would make art as a scientist or about being a scientist.
It must be more than a pure coincidence that the mind of each student seems a lot like the mind Rilke wished for in the young poet.
The exhibition takes its title after "mindOfAGrapplingStemMajor," a work by participating student Alexandra Loumidis.
The exhibition is curated by Julia of Ks.