Maryville College students can now experience a different kind of “tension” than is usually created by classes. For the entire month of September, art enthusiasts can view a new exhibit in the Blackberry Farm Gallery entitled “Tension” by TeaYoun Kim-Kassor, an assistant professor of art at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Ga. Walking into the room, there are no paintings or sculptures – instead, two huge pieces of black spandex stretch from wall to wall, anchored in by thick black cord that keeps the fabric taut.
In order to create a feeling of tension within the exhibit, Kim-Kassor did more than just hang black fabric from the walls. At crucial points within the fabric, she threaded red string through the fabric and to the wall behind, creating a series of push and pulls within the exhibit. The strings intersect across the room, laying out a maze of red that forces viewers some maneuvering in order to see it firsthand.
An explanation about the exhibit is offered on a pamphlet within the gallery, where the idea is explained as “a catalyst of reflective movements to…stimulate viewers toward reflections on the ageless identity.”
Further detail on the pamphlet enumerates Kim-Kassor’s struggles with her identity within American culture and her desire to “escape the ‘hold’ that [her] native culture has on [her].” After discussion with the artist about the potency of her exhibit for those viewers who have not experienced tension such as hers, Kim-Kassor remarked that this exhibit is for every person.
“Through the installation, ‘Tension,’ I hope to provide a chance for any viewer to remove themselves from their daily routines and to reflect on life and its many tensions,” Kim- Kassor said.
Mark Hall, the current gallery director and a professor of art at Maryville, sat down to talk about the exhibit and the images it portrays. When asked about the reactions from viewers, he recounted a story of how one woman stopped at the door of the gallery, curious, but not sure that she could actually walk in and navigate within the strings.
Kim-Kassor possessed a clear intention of what she wanted the viewer of her art to experience when she created the environment in her exhibit. As an installation artist, the purpose is to create an opportunity for a viewer to walk into a room and encounter a new perspective. The exhibit took a total of 10 hours to complete, the installation taking place over two days, with Mark Hall, senior art student Mauriel Rodriguez and Kim-Kassor working together to properly engineer the installation.
Both Hall and Kim-Kassor said that the viewer should be able to walk into the exhibit and encase himself within the installation. Art displays at the Blackberry Farm Gallery as well as in the Clayton Center art exhibit will continue throughout the year, including work from Hall, MC alumni, and visiting, out-of-state artists.