You’ve encountered the Harper Center art in your Booth life, passively or actively - you may have been lucky enough to sign up in the first 5 minutes and 13 seconds to get a spot on the art tour, you may laughed about the provocative video by the mail-folders highlighted in the Follies promo, and now that the weather is getting better, perhaps even stared at the tree in the Summer Garden a little closer - but what if you didn’t get on the tour? We reached out to a few lucky Boothies who did to ask them about their favorite pieces and what made them pause and think, rather like the “Why Are We Here And Not Somewhere Else” sign makes us think.
Drew Jacob, Class of 2018
“The first thing Professor Prendergast told us on the Harper art tour was that the collection was not devised as an investment, but for the enjoyment of the Booth community. So you’re meant to interact with it, and pause and think. It is always a pleasure to discover a new piece of art, particularly when the encounter is unexpected. Some of my favorite pieces are the ones that are easily overlooked: Prior to going on the tour, I had not examined Simon Denny's Textbook Disruption, a piece hanging outside the first floor study lounge, because I had assumed it was marketing material.
However, one piece I really enjoyed was was unexpected in that it wasn’t visual. Janice Kerbel's Ballgame, an audio installation in a set of staircases that plays 2 innings of a baseball game followed by 7 innings of silence.”
David Mendez, Class of 2018
“The most thought-provoking pieces for me is a series of three photographs by Tomoko Yaneda on the 5th floor.
I really liked them because at first glance they are just three photographs of amazing landscapes but then, Professor Canice Prendergast told us that these three places, peaceful as they looked, had been in fact war zones - Lebanon-Israel border, Sarajevo and The Korea’s border. That stuck with me. I realized that at the time of the photograph everything looked so peaceful, but that there was way more story behind what the photograph was able to show. It kind of also reminded me that despite the fact that time really heals or at least washes away pretty much everything.”
Rahil Bharani, Class of 2018
“I particularly like the set of five paintings outside the academic services offices on level 1. They are by an LA artist - Mark Grotjahn. I was always intrigued by what the dates meant and the background story about the painting makes them very interesting. These paintings were commissioned for $5000 before the artist became famous. He went to an LA casino and wagered the $5000 on 5 different days. Each painting mentions the date and the amount he won or lost. Since then, the painter has become exceedingly famous and is known for the perspectives in his painting, hence the projecting lines.”
Lisa Twu, Class of 2018
"My favorite pieces were from Wolfgang Tillmans. For the first piece, which Wolfgang calls his 'proudest work' I liked that at first glance, the photograph doesn't look like much. Once you realize that it is actually Venus eclipsing the sun, the most impressive part is that next time this is going to happen isn't until 2117. He was able to time the photo just right and its a reminder how it's so easy to take things for granted.
I also really the second piece which is part of a collection of images. To me, it looks like some strange vortex. However, it's only one sheet of paper folded on itself. I think it speaks to me that we can find beauty even in the simplest things."
As the author of the piece who, unluckily, hasn’t had the chance to go on the tour, I was lucky to learn more about a piece I encounter quite often, the one outside the locker room. Parker Ito’s mass of colorful paintings, chains and LED lights that's impossible to miss – Parker Ito’s A Lil Taste of Cheeto In the Night and FggitCxx3 – a giant mass of LED lights and strung up canvasses that’s impossible to miss. As I sat down with some of the folks who made it on the tour, they were able to voice what I always thought - this piece is supposed to make you look up and take notice. It is a way of capturing the sensory overload in our lives that spills over the lines.
One of the things that makes the environment at the Harper Center truly unique is this amazing collection. And we’re glad to get these perspectives. After all, “Why Are We Here” right?
Disha Malik is an art enthusiast who bemoans the fact that she hasn’t been on the art tour yet. However, she is happy to chat with your experiences if you have. For more check out http://art.chicagobooth.edu/