Students display ideas about architecture in special exhibit

by Emma Guo | 1/25/18 2:30am

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“A Temporary Museum of Ideas in the Making” features innovative student work from architecture courses in the studio art department.

by Joyce Lee / The Dartmouth Staff

First created as a display of appreciation for student artwork, “A Temporary Museum of Ideas in the Making” has been transformed into a collection of 36 architectural models constructed by Dartmouth students. Curated by Gerald Auten, studio art professor and director of the studio art exhibition program, and studio art professor Zenovia Toloudi, the exhibit is currently displayed in the Strauss Gallery at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Students and community members now have the opportunity to view some of the best architectural models collected by Toloudi from her classes over the past three years. While it is common for studio art professors to keep art created by their students, “A Temporary Museum of Ideas in the Making” allows the public to appreciate and explore innovative work produced by Dartmouth students too.

Toloudi said she hopes that the models will serve as an archive of examples of good architecture and ideas to inspire the next generation of students. The collection displays a wide range of projects created over the years, and each model in the exhibition embodies a unique idea brought to life by a variety of materials. Toloudi said she also hopes that the exhibition will provide the opportunity to highlight the importance of architecture.

“Architecture is essential to our being — it is about the construction of a new world and how we transform the physical environment around us,” Toloudi said.

Toloudi said she views her students as young architects and the models as opportunities to show the possibility to change and improve the surrounding environments of everyday people.

Laura Jeliazkov ’18 is the creator of two exhibition pieces, both of which are from the course Studio 65, “Architecture I,” she took with Toloudi in fall 2017. One of her models is a wooden backpack, considered “wearable architecture.” The inspiration for Jeliazkov’s model came from her time spent hiking in Switzerland. After seeing an old farmer taking his cows up a hill, Jeliazkov noticed that he was wearing what looked like a wooden chair on his back.

“That backpack served him year after year [the ability] to carry all the cables up and down, and I just thought, ‘Why can’t I challenge our own backpacks, slings and handles?’” Jeliazkov said.

Her work aims to critique and challenge the notion that humans must follow the conventions of the fleeting and ever-changing modes and designs of life.

Ashley Dotson ’18 is also featured in the exhibition with a piece she constructed in the course Studio Art 66, “Architecture II” with Toloudi. The piece combines her interests in art and theater. After visiting Washington Square Park in New York City with her class as part of a project to curate a public space, Dotson chose to focus on street performers and the spaces they perform in.

“I studied a lot of street performances — which ones people tended to flock to, which ones people tended to avoid … from there, I created a system of lights that could be used in a public space and adjusted for different street performances,” Dotson said.

Her model aims to create a space that will make street performances more compelling based on the types of performances involved, effectively combining her interests in architecture and theater.

Projects such as those by Dotson and Jeliazkov are just a few examples of the importance of retaining the artistic elements of architecture. Including architecture courses within the studio art department is pivotal, Toloudi said, because architecture has shied away from its artistic elements and become increasingly competitive in recent years. Thus, by placing architecture courses in the studio art department, Dartmouth has afforded the subject more artistic freedom.

“Architecture is not just about making buildings,” Toloudi said. “It is about rethinking our connection to nature and the world, and making spaces around ourselves more functional and meaningful.”

The models in the exhibition are not simply engineered buildings or landscapes — they represent the unique ideas of students. In a world in which people are increasingly interconnected and attached to their electronic devices, these models represent a detachment from the online, intangible world.

“I see these models as an act of resistance to the disassociation from the physical and the tangible,” Toloudi said.

“A Temporary Museum of Ideas in the Making” is available for viewing at the Strauss Gallery until April 29.

Jeliazkov is a member of The Dartmouth.