I attended the Karley Klopfenstein art exhibition in the Boyden Gallery on its grand opening on October 25. I had heard that she had created sculptures out of fabric and had seen the various knitted creations hung around Montgomery hall adorning the doors, lights, and sculptures throughout the building. I went into this thinking that it would be a very whimsical and feminine exhibit, and in part it was, but I certainly didn’t expect to see a lot of the art creations in the exhibition. True to my expectations, all of the works of art were created out of fabric of some sort, whether that be a textile, carpeting, or yarn, and yes without a doubt she is extremely talented with this medium (I could hardly tell several of the sculptures were even made of fabric until I closely analyzed them).
However, what shocked me the most was how graphic and grotesque the sculptures were in one half of the exhibit (sewn together human figures either half dismembered or horribly disfigured). This sat juxtaposed with the other half of the exhibit, lighthearted and bright colored tanks and bombs as well as various other weapons. Ms. Klopfenstein really made me think about what statement she was intending to make. At first I thought this could have easily been an exhibit that protests the war, mocking the weapons we use by creating them in such a lighthearted and happy way, while on the other hand making an obvious statement on the devastating toll these weapons have on human life. I expected something of this nature taking into consideration that this is such a peace loving liberal school. On the other hand however, I think her intention of this exhibit and what she wanted her viewers to get from her art could easily swing the other way, protesting more how the general public and the media thinks of war rather than the war itself. At first glance in the exhibit the first thing you are drawn to are the iconic images of the tank and bomb, created in eye catching colors and patterns; it isn’t for a few seconds that you notice the corpses made in muted colors that almost blend into the neutral wall color at the other side of the room. The American public sees photos and news clippings of war all the time, especially when it comes to tanks driving through cities and bombs going off. What we don’t see is the human devastation that it has (just as her bodies are not nearly as noticeable at first glance). The American public is highly sheltered from seeing the sights that people (whether in the military or innocent civilians that happened to live in these war stricken areas), and this is because, just as when I caught glimpse of the bodies in the exhibit, it is extremely disturbing. War is a very serious matter, whether you are against the war or not. People are risking their lives every day and seeing terrible things we cannot even imagine, and yet the general public sees these images on the news of the war and think nothing of it really and move on with their life. I still am struggling with what Karley Klopfenstein actually wanted us to get out of her art, but no matter what her thoughts on the matter of war are, or the thoughts of the viewers of her art, it made a huge statement and made everyone really think about the situation at hand in a new light. Which isn’t that the goal of art in the first place - to get people to really stop and think?