Art speaks out

You may have noticed the people in white jumpsuits running around campus recently. No, they’re not ghosts of NKU’s past. They’re just students from Foundations II.

Foundations is a two-part art class required for all incoming art majors. It consists of two semesters that cover different aspects of art including sculpting, painting and, of course, performance art. Lisa Siders-Kinney, part-time faculty in the art department, said the course is designed to give students a good foundation in contemporary art.

For the performance art part of the class, students are given about a week and half to come up with a presentation. Each student directs their own presentation and acts in the presentations created by their classmates. These performances can take place almost anywhere on campus.

On the big day, students don their Tyvek suits (a durable thin suit that protects your skin) and head outside, where they have five minutes to both explain and perform their presentations.

“They have to direct very quickly,” Siders-Kinney said.

And the white suits? Students wear them to help identify them and make them stand out. Siders-Kinney added that sometimes students stand in a certain formation to make a shape, creating a physical sculpture. The pale suits are also more visible.

As for the presentations, pretty much anything goes — unless, of course, it’s illegal or could incite panic.

This year, Siders-Kinney said that one of her students wanted to do a performance to get people to think about what it would be like to live in a military state.

“Initially she wanted to use toy guns held at some of the students heads,” Siders-Kinney said. Instead, students pointed their fingers in the shape of a gun.

“I thought the toy guns could be misinterpreted from a distance and cause our campus security unnecessary alarm,” she said. “(The presentation) was still powerful.”

The art professors do also have discretion to limit participation in performances that may be too controversial in nature. Siders-Kenny said that a student once wanted everyone to participate in an “impromptu anti-abortion demonstration.” In cases like this, participation is not required.