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Scripps Gets (Vapidly?) Edgy With Motley Art Show

November 18, 2008

by Ian McGinnity

Those who know me know that I am a Scripps fan. Oh yes, I love that fine institution with its fine publications (the cartoon section in The Voice is not so much funny as it is helpful, especially if I forget who won the election. Thanks cartoon, I remember now, it was Obama!), fine student body (over half of whom spend their weekends gracing the halls and dorms of CMC), and fine administration (Dean Wood nominated by The Washington Post for "Stupidest Person of the Year Award" for over-sensitivity of last year's White Party).

Needless to say, when I saw that The Motley was displaying art, I was excited to see what kind of edgy art the Scripps student body had created this time around.

One of the many definitions of art is the creative expression of the artist's personal world perceptions. Often times, these world perceptions of the artist reflect realities that are much different from the realities the rest of us see. Thus, because art allows for the public to see the world in a radically different manner than their own, the public can become exposed to different cultures, lifestyles, or thoughts and expand their intellectual horizons. Therefore, it is the essential role of the artist to express, in this case, her feelings in a way that pushes the limits of how society thinks and reveals edgy and creative new perspectives.

In a daring attempt to express and display earth-shattering creativity, The Motley is hosting an art show that lasts from today when I walked in and saw it until an undisclosed time in the future when I will walk in and the art will have been taken down, leaving The Motley barren and bereft in its simplistic brick-and-rafter motif.

I had heard from a few friends of mine that previous years had included racy pieces that glorified, perhaps unecessarily, certain parts of  the female body, but were nevertheless, a topic of controversy on the the campuses. New art? I was excited and so was everyone I talked to. Everyone loves a good controversy.

However, upon entering The Motley and observing the 'artwork' displayed within, I was dismayed. Hanging on the walls were unnecessary paintings and pictures that recalled banal Scripps themes.

For instance, in a desolate corner, directly above the game where "everyone wins!" (how ideal), hung a picture of what looked like an ovular cavern with several soggy layers around it. At the top of the cavern entrance was a circular/oval object (perhaps a clock?). The cave was droopy and colorful. Or perhaps it wasn't a cave but true to form of this motley art, a representation of a female body part. I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

In the opposite corner was a "self-portrait" sculpture. It consisted of a small-chested torso with no arms, legs or head, complimented by a gargantuan stomach. The torso was suspended in the air, hung above a light, entangled entirely in wires and cords (undoubtedly representative of the constrictions that come from living in such a sexist America...).

The pièce de résistance, however, was a comic hung by safety pins along the wall. Unsurprisingly, the comic was about Wonder Woman, Scripps' #1 favorite superhero. In this episode, Wonder Woman fights the evils of sexism by burning her Wonderbra. Basically, I loved this one.

Disturbing portayals of female nudity, a depressing self-portrait confined by sexism and low self-esteem, and a comical (yes, I did enjoy it) burn-the-bra display. C'mon Scripps, how banal can these themes get? We all know self-awareness and self-esteem is a common theme on your campus: the amazing salad bar with the (unfortunately) fat free (grr) salad dressings along with the milk options of low fat, fat free, or soy gave that away a long time ago. And as for the in-your-face feminist themes...yeah...we GET IT already.

In summary, I was disappointed by the lack of new perspectives in the artwork at The Motley. Where was the controversy? Where was the creativity? Coming from a school that prides itself in progressive thought, I expected progression from the ideas of the past, not merely repetition of what we already know.

Still, The Motley makes a killer Femicino....

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