A cacophony of clutter: The Balcony’s first art show of the year explores physical and mental mess

Julia Farner PO ’22 and Chloe Wanaselja PO ’21 interact with artwork at The Balcony’s “Clutter” exhibit. Courtesy: Maya Jotwani

A dress hung from the ceiling, and a collection of haphazard lists and cell phone photos were littered across the room. Students donned technicolor plastic overwear and hula hoop garments, as a display of repurposed stuffed animals watched over the space.

The chaotic scene was united by only one theme — clutter.

The Balcony, a student-run 5C organization promoting student art, hosted its first show of the academic year March 1. Titled “Clutter,” the show featured pieces created by students of various colleges, majors and interests, and was displayed at the Pomona Studio Art Hall’s Pamela Creighton Gray Space and Terrace.

“‘Clutter’ was conceived as this idea that, as we live, we accumulate a lot of things, whether that’s … actual material knick-knacks or experiences and baggage,” Balcony board member Maya Jotwani PO ’21 said. “There’s so many meanings and connotations and connections [with clutter]. It’s versatile for any kind of art … and open-ended enough to allow for interaction with different people.”

The exhibit showcased an eclectic cross-section of student art, including paintings, photo collections, sculptures, collages, embroidery, virtual reality experiences and performance art pieces.

Balcony board member and artist Chloe Wanaselja PO ’21 submitted an untitled collage that featured colorful, amorphous map fragments haloed by a web of lavender yarn.

“I loved the idea of having a theme for the work,” Wanaselja said via email. “Because each piece [of the show] stood alone but all together, they informed each other wonderfully.”

Artist Kyle Lenhart-Wees PO ’20 created “Baggage,” a collection of wearable, dynamic pieces made of found items.

“Clutter for me was very much connected to an emotional state,” he said. “Nothing is as simple as it just seems — there are things going on in the back of my mind, things going on in the minds of people around me.”

Lenhart-Wees said the The Balcony promotes open-mindedness, so people are free to let their minds wander and let their imaginations establish the meaning of their art.

One of the art pieces that was displayed in “Clutter.” (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

“There’s no right or wrong,” Lenhart-Wees said. “There’s no instructions, so The Balcony is generally conducive to that openness and willingness to open oneself up to different things.”

There are many 5C students passionate about art, but not all of them are part of the art department. Jotwani said that by opening up the floor to all students, The Balcony encourages artistic development at the 5Cs.

“Clutter” attendee Izabella Davis PO ’22 said art in Claremont represents the thoughts of 5C students as a whole.

“Art shows what us as a student body is thinking — how we’re communicating our thoughts and opinions and expressing ourselves,” she said. “That is really important because it’s hard to articulate something so personal [without] art, because art has a way of encapsulating our emotions in a unique way.”

Jotwani agreed, and said The Balcony’s openness is at the helm of the group’s mission.

“We want to reiterate our shows and our organization as a space not just for so-called artistic people,” she said. “Just generally, there is a sense that … people don’t go to these kinds of events because that’s not ‘who they are’ and because that’s not ‘their crowd.’ We want to veer away from being a space just for a specific crowd and make sure we’re accessible to everyone.”

Keep up with The Balcony’s future shows and events on their Facebook page.

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