Expression without borders

International art exhibit shown at WWU

by Maddy Tanis

The visual arts are generally seen as being created by a lone artist inspired by their own experiences, however “Crossover/Cruce de Vias” is a different story.

Co-created by Western professor Cara Jaye and Mexican artist Miguel River collaborated across national borders. Using mixed media, the art was exchanged between artists and something was added to each piece with every trade.

The pieces use drawing and printmaking to convey a message about sharing art over borders. The result of the project is on display through May 16th.

All the art in the exhibit “Crossover” has been collaborated on by multiple artists in cities all over the world. Photo by Maddy Tanis.
All the art in the exhibit “Crossover” has been collaborated on by multiple artists in cities all over the world. Photo by Maddy Tanis.

Jaye and Rivera, the original artists of the  “Crossover” project, began the project by passing pieces to only each other. Later, they included 30 artists from more than 10 countries.

Amy Chalpouka, guest exhibition curator, said the pieces have layers, and they “live as an archive of experience of collaboration.”
For example, a piece starts with printmaking on paper. An artists may add a painted flower, then another could person screen print over that. Coyote fur is stitched onto the top, creating the final layer and completing the artwork.

“The wealth of possibility that is open to them in the arts, art making, collaboration, and how a small idea artistically can lead to something become big and profound,” Jaye said.

The exhibit was brought to Bellingham because of Jaye’s involvement with the project since the beginning.
The project began as drawing and printmaking, but many more mediums have been added to the process. Photo processes, collage, sewing, and fabric are all practices the artists represented in the exhibit have utilized throughout the process of creating the “Crossover.”

“Crossover” has been divided into four parts, or chapters. The first chapter was started in Mexico by Jaye and Rivera, and then more was added in Buenos Aires and Kansas City, where additional artists added to those pieces. Each chapter is different because the artists added their own touch.

Bellingham is the only location where all of the work have been displayed together, because it is large enough to display all 150 pieces.

The individual chapters have been in Buenos Aires, Kansas City, and Seattle. 26 artists contributed to the project in Buenos Aires, and 5 artists worked on it in Kansas City.

In Bellingham, Jaye and Rivera have added artists Alicia Candiani and John Feodorov.

“[The exhibit will be] interesting and engaging more than once,” Jaye said, “it’s evolving, we didn’t want it to be static.”
A live work space is set-up in the gallery with a printing press for the artists of the Bellingham chapter to add onto the exhibit, which demonstrates exactly what the project has been all along. The open workspace “illustrates how things are made,” Jaye said, adding that viewers “might see one or two layers, come back and see how artists have added layers on top of those.”

Gallery guest exhibition curator Chalpouka agreed. “This is our way of saying to the viewer, art is an active practice,” she said, and that it’s “an opportunity to see first-hands artists working.”
Chalpouka said her favorite aspect of the exhibit is the collaboration.

“This pushed artists to  take risks in ways they wouldn’t in their own practice,” she said. The art shows “different conversations,” she added, and the “chronology and history of collaborations and points in time.”

Before attending the exhibit, Chalpouka likes to let viewers discover the art and messaged for themselves, but she also said they should read the plaques hung by the art pieces to know how a certain piece came to be where it is today.

“[The gallery] is a great resource for us in the art department,” Jaye said, who sees the gallery as a “wonderful teach tool,” because it is open every day and the diverse artwork that is displayed there for months at a time throughout the year.”

Grant Haley, WWU student, 19, said, “I’m not particularly into art, but I definitely like being in the gallery. It’s fun to watch the exhibits change every few months.”

An exhibit was displayed in the gallery demonstrating transgender acceptance, and the importance of it. This was something Haley said was “really interesting.”

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