By Silvia Foster-Frau
From a Victorian-style suitcase with tea and cookies to a mathematically-inspired suitcase representing the interaction between work and vectors, the wide variety of the art showcased by the Suitcase Art Experimental College (ExCo) truly emulated Grinnell’s liberal arts mission.
The students of the ExCo displayed their final products in Faulconer Gallery this Thursday. The leader of the ExCo is art major Christopher Squier ’13, who is also the web editor at the S&B.
Squier got the idea after seeing Yayoi Kusama’s sculpture in Des Moines and the suitcase art of Yin Xiuzhen online. In one of her pieces, Yin portrays startling skylines; she became known for her representation of New York with two ghostly twin towers shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. Squier found that his ExCo helped students develop their artistic skills but also found it to be a great community building activity.
“One of the good things about this was also it helped me meet new people [in] art here at Grinnell that are second or first years or that did art or were English majors and just weren’t here very much, so I thought that was really a good aspect of it,” Squier said.
Squier made his own suitcase art, a nature-themed suitcase with unraveling pink extensions resembling entrails draped over the back of a sofa. When closing the suitcase exhibition, all Squier had to do was roll the entrails back into the suitcase and close it up. This feature sets suitcase art apart from other art forms.
“The most exciting thing about this ExCo or this art in general is that it is portable, we can take it with us,” Squier said. “Someone can take it and show it to their friend, or we could meet up in the future theoretically and have another show. People can take these home with them and keep working on them if they want to.”
Suitcase art is not just a practical method of displaying art; it also contains deep symbolism.
“I always have thought boxes are cool because they open and close and stuff’s hidden in them… Suitcases are pretty… as an object, they have a lot of symbolism that you can put into them,” Squier said. “They just have a lot of relation to the self and the body and what do you choose to carry with you, how does it represent your home and things like that. What would you put in it if this was all you had to take with you?”
After their exhibition in Faulconer, the suitcases were formally presented at Faulconer’s This I Believe/ Open-Mic event. The suitcases then traveled to Spencer Grill and Younker