“I give more than I take.” “I live in a bubble.” “I’m not good at being vulnerable.”
Pope, a Chicago-based artist and educator, arrived at Kenyon in late March to work with students in the “Institutions and Inequalities” course taught by David Skubby, visiting assistant professor of sociology, and in the “Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology” course taught by Patrick Ewell, visiting assistant professor of psychology.
A Mellon grant combined with matching support from the Gund Gallery Board of Directors led to the new $250,000 artist-in-residence program, which will continue with other artists after Pope’s residency. The goal is to foster creative links between non-arts disciplines and contemporary art and then exhibit the work produced through their collaboration, Gund Gallery Director Natalie Marsh said.
“This is a marriage of themes between her studio practice and the classes, in what might be seen as an unlikely pairing,” Marsh said. “This will allow the students involved to talk that much more creatively and articulately about the themes of their courses.”
Pope is an assistant professor in the Fashion, Body and Garment and the Contemporary Practices programs at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an athlete, winning a 2014 Golden Gloves championship.
She asked the psychology students to examine the short statements written by the sociology students. “I do a lot of collaboration, but this is the first time I’ve collaborated with this specific kind of study,” Pope said. “I’m really excited. What’s interesting to me is that it’s Kenyon students right now. It’s a document of real life right now — people who are on your same team.”
Pope told the psychology students that she thinks of herself as a journalist. “The research is as important as the creation. We are researching for a long time about what we’re making. We don’t just look at a piece of paper and intuit what to do,” Pope said. “Listening is at the foundation of my practice.”
Ewell asked his students to find a way to organize this data set of statements in a way that accounts for some odd answers — one student wrote, “I like Twizzlers”— but finds a way to have the statements explain something about human behavior.
“A lot of you won’t turn into psychology researchers. But research goes into a lot of different practices,” Ewell told them. “Good research practices are important for reaching good output, whether the output be art or whether the output be research papers.”
The sociology students worked with Pope to select 20 statements to be produced as artwork resembling championship banners that will be installed at the Kenyon Athletic Center the week of Monday, April 25. Pope said she hopes the artwork, which will be displayed through December 2016, provokes further conversation about vulnerability as an essential component of identity and community.
“After you read these statements, what more information is told about the student’s experience at Kenyon College? Can this be both the voice of the individual and the community?” she asked the psychology class.