Last Thursday, I visited the art galleries on campus to see some of the pieces student artists had been working on recently. In the Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery, artist Kyle Kruze had a fabric and ink installation put up. Over the course of the last 12 weeks, Kruze worked on carving this design into a specific wood block from Oregon. He used precision in his lines to make the image stand out on white fabric. The lines flowed together to create an image of a person holding a mask over their head. Multiple textures were used to make the visual more realistic. This could be seen from the vertical lines in the stockings and the checkered pattern in the shirt. Kruze was very detailed in every aspect of his work. Even the pants show different shades of black to imply the natural ruffles in clothing. The use of black and white, simultaneously with the theatrical lighting, made the display look more dramatic and somber.
Kruze starts by referencing back to childhood, how “magical thinking” was prevalent when we were young. He yearns for the freedom of childlike imagination, and wishes to create endlessly to this day. As a printmaker, Kruze’s artwork shown in the gallery is a tribute to the first of its kind, known as “bois protat” or protat woodblock. Printer Jules Protat from France has the oldest surviving woodcut image from the Western world. Kruze explains that his installation calls back to the first printmaking process, where woodblocks were printed on fabrics to create altar frontals in places of worship. The nature of the fabrics and the material of the cloth is very intentional. From the back, the fabric is transparent. The “passive actor” that walks around the circle can see through the fabric and choose whether to be seen or not. Yet within the circle, “one becomes a part of the act and becomes a part of the display themselves, a ritual figure in the performance of this relationship, the tension between one who sees, and one who is seen”. The heads of the jesters relates to old African tribes who wore masks to protect themselves from spirits.
This installation intrigued me since I was confused and couldn’t figure it out. After re-reading the artist’s letter and talking to the artist himself, I started to fathom the metaphorical meaning, yet was still extremely perplexed. One main idea of the piece is the relationship between “the viewer” and “the actor”, and “a presence whom cannot be seen but may see others”. I start to formulate ideas about simple comparisons. In a classroom, students cannot see the faces of the people in front of them, yet the professor can see everyone. Noting that this installation cites back to a place of worship, I think of a God or spiritual being that can see everything on Earth. This higher power cannot be seen, but he can see what has happened and what will happen. The humans of this planet are all just actors, a display for someone bigger to see.
Viewing different mediums of art is always a unique experience. I had looked through the other galleries but decided I wanted to choose Kruze’s installation, since it had a deeper metaphorical meaning that was difficult for me to comprehend, thus making me want to spend more time analyzing it and figuring it out. I also had a curiosity for its creative process. I considered taking a picture of the artist in the middle of his own masterpiece, to represent him being a part/key figure of its symbolism. I am hoping to grow a deeper appreciation for more forms of art during future gallery visits.