The Balcony Presents Student Art Exhibit, “Social Animals,” at SCC

The Balcony presented “Social Animals,” their first student art show of the year, last Friday, Oct. 11. The Balcony is a new student-run club that organizes events in the Pomona College Student Art Gallery in the Smith Campus Center. The
show explores the evolving nature of human
interaction and interconnectivity, a theme especially relevant in the age of
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The exhibit’s compilation of photography, sculpture, painting, and mixed media reflected a thoughtful and vibrant
social examination of our increasingly wired lifestyles.

The artists included David
Connor PO ‘15, Grace
Wielebinski PO ‘14, Kate
Chaviano PZ ’16, Sana Khan PO ’17, Ben
Bleiberg PO ‘15, Mary Margaret Groves PO ’15, Kasey Taylor PO ‘15, Isabelle Ng PZ ’17, Joel Freeman PO ’16, Emily Robin PZ ’14, Sidney Browning PO ’16, Casey Breen PO ’16, Guy Thyer PO ’16, Conner Roberts PO ’16, and Sana Kadri PO ’16. 

Amy Ragsdale PO ’15, president of The Balcony and main
organizer of the event, said that a mission of the show was to shed light on
the implications of social media in our day and age.

“It’s clear that our generation is constantly involved in social media,
but it’s something that few people stop to reflect on and evaluate,” she said. “It’s
important to take time and consider what benefits social media brings us and at
what costs.” 

Ragsdale emphasized that the exhibit was not meant to criticize
social media, but rather to explore it in a unique way.  

“The show wasn’t trying to change people’s behavior but just to make sure
that the decision to participate in social media is one that we make with
intention and clear motivation,” she said.

The exhibit as a whole, and the individual artwork it featured,
was smart and edgy. Although some pieces were traditional in medium, they all
nevertheless encompassed an aesthetic innovativeness and modernness that echoed
its subject matter.

Benjamin Kersten PO ’15, who went to the gallery opening, said that the similar function of art
and social media made for an interesting and exciting show.

“Art and social media are irrevocably tied because of how
they both deal with representation,” he said. “On one hand—as the work at The Balcony
mostly explored—you have the way people choose to represent themselves through
their presence in social media. On the other hand, art as a more general form
of representation helps people organize the world but also involves this process
of sending and receiving messages. So it’s fun to have an art show about social
media because it’s kind of humans manufacturing meaning about how humans
manufacture meaning.”

Ranging from Taylor’s oil painting of an Instagram photo to Grove’s charcoal sketches of roadkill to Roberts’ and Kadri’s collection of multi-angle portraits of their friends, each piece
conveyed and added thoughtful and relevant insight to the overall dialogue of
social interaction. Wielebinski’s
quasi-readymade piece stood out. The piece featured a computer keyboard attached to a small
cupboard filled with personal photographs and memorabilia, signifying the
multi-faceted nature of one’s selfhood, in which memory, real life, and one’s
social media presence intermix to form a single identity.

Freeman PO ’16 created a sculpture of a thylacine and silverback gorilla made
of wood and glue.

choosing those animals I meant to play with the idea of power and powerlessness—extinction
in this case. I wanted to convey, through the gorilla’s form, a ferocity that
the thylacine can no longer show,” Freeman said.

The event itself was well
attended and high in energy. Students were greeted by a bowl of Facebook ‘Like’ stickers and were asked to stick them on to art pieces they particularly liked.
The show also featured upbeat music by DJ Junja and DJ Cathay.

Kadri, vice-president of The Balcony and
contributing artist in the show, said she believed the show was a success, especially
in the way it connected with the audience.

“In comparison to the other art shows, I think it was equally
as successful. But with that said, I think this show probably made people think
the most and had the greatest impact on them. After the show, I had
conversations with people who really empathized with the work and felt as
though the overall message really hit home. To me that’s a successful show!” Kadri said.

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