Conceptual art event brightens campus

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Photo by Evan Ludes/ The Gateway Led by Professor David Helm, UNO art students put their "artistic road signs" on display throughout campus this week
Photo by Evan Ludes/ The Gateway
Led by Professor David Helm, UNO art students put their “artistic road signs” on display throughout campus this week

By Seth Arter, Contributor

On Sept. 24, one may have seen some unusual signs on campus in between the Eppley Administration and the University of Nebraska at Omaha Welcome Center buildings. These artistic constructions were all designed by UNO art students for their Art in Public Places class.
The class, led by professor David Helm, helps students understand different roles art plays in public places.
“The course is about introducing students to making artworks in a public arena,” Helm said.
In order to reach a large audience, Helm wanted the pieces of art to be very accessible and understandable. As road signs are typically a part of everyday life around the world, Helm and the students knew they would be fairly easy for UNO students to understand.
Although the signs may have looked familiar to those walking on campus, the art designs in them was what seemed to confuse some, which was a part of the next step for Helm’s students.
Once the signs were places in various locations, the artists stood or sat at a fair distance from their pieces from their pieces, yet close enough to listen and observe reactions of those who walked by.
“They get a sense of what can happen,” Helm said.
Before this happens, the first two assignments are spent analyzing public space and public language. As it is a key part of the class, observing and analyzing opinions on public art works is just one of many topics the class covers.
“We address how you legitimately go about making art in public spaces and how you can do it in other ways as well,” Helm said.
The purpose is to raise awareness of issues by using art and to change other’s perspectives on certain public places.
Even though this was the third year the event has taken place, the artists still seemed to get a wide-variety of reactions from on-lookers.
Senior Jartiza Medina placed her piece right in front of the belltower, and witnessed all sorts of feedback from those walking by. Medina’s sign was a red “do not enter” sign, featuring a student in the middle.
“I wanted it to be a social experiment,” Medina said.
The goal of the experiment, driven by Medina’s curiosity, was to see who would go around the bell tower, and who would go through it. The conclusion drawn was that those who were in groups tended to go through, and those alone typically walked around.
“I think when you’re by yourself you think for yourself, and when you’re in groups you feel a little stronger and safer with people around you,” Medina said.
Senior Nicholas Clark, chose Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man for his sign. Since Clark is interested in various famous scientists and artists, he chose to place the piece between the Weber Fine Arts and Durham Science Center buildings.
“I really am an old masters’ fan,” Clark said.
Today, Clark believes people tend to separate science and art from one another.
“Art is more design-oriented, and science is more innovation,” Clark said.
Clark wants to remember the connection between the two as he believes many have forgotten the link.

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