UAG hosts community conversations with hot chocolate. Photo by Lucy Wimmer (C’20).
By Szonja Szurop
The University Art Gallery (UAG) combined physical, social, and intellectual enrichment by hosting a hot chocolate party to highlight the Communication Station, their newest exhibition.
The visitors to the Gallery were greeted with hot drinks on a Thursday afternoon in November and were invited to share their stories and thoughts about the Sewanee community. After grabbing pleasantly-steaming cups of hot chocolate, visitors could walk around to admire the ongoing Automated Exchange and other projects of the Isle of Printing team.
Isle of Printing is a Nashville-based group of artists that initiates programs to bring people together. The results of one of these events, the Our Town Nashville: Field Reports, for example, is displayed in the UAG until December 16.
As the part of this project, Bryce McCloud and his team operated mobile art studios all over the city and supplied participants with tools to create printed portraits of themselves. The locals were photographed with their completed artworks so they could trade them with the letterpress prints of others.
“Viewing these pictures was truly heartwarming, I felt that I got the model of Nashville itself where members of the community are linked together not just by living at the same place,” said Sara Brandenburg (C’22), one of the visitors.
After the Our Town Nashville portraits, attention was drawn to the interactive, Sewanee-linked main attraction of the showroom: the mysterious Object Idea automat, or more precisely, exchange machine. It caught the eyes of visitors the moment they entered the room with its mirror encasing and shining sci-fi like buttons, and everyone was eager to try it out themselves.
Visitors grabbed their objects, wrote a short story about its importance, and engaged in excited chit-chat with the others queuing in front of the cubicle. A wide range of donations, from soccer medal, tape, mugs or old horn from the 60s, were looking for a new owner, some with funny or moving stories about friendship, people, and community.
Noah Kersten (C’22), another participant of the event, said, “I really liked the experience; it filled me with a Christmas-like happiness and enthusiasm, when you gave and receive at the same time.” Many agreed that the machine just strengthened this feeling with its unique appearance and curiously opening and closing window.
Community members can still witness the operation of the cubicle and receive a surprise themselves, as the exchange goes on every Tuesday through Friday from 12 to 1 p.m., and the hot chocolate parties are repeated on Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. in the UAG.