special projects



AN OPEN BOOK, Work by Barbara Ellmann is an exhibition and education initiative, produced via the collaboration of the artist; curator, Sophia Marisa Lucas; Western Michigan University’s James W. and Lois I. Richmond Center Gallery and Art Education Department; and KRESA Education For the Arts. Additional site-specific iterations are currently being developed for other cities. Click here for updates on AN OPEN BOOK 2, taking place in 2016 in Palm Desert, CA.

With its absence of wall text, AN OPEN BOOK is meant to be “read,” perceived, and comprehended entirely visually, so that any narrative paired with these images originates from the viewer in exchange with the works. The exhibition model follows the nature of Ellmann’s permutable painting arrangements, in which each panel is created individually and then placed within a different site-specific grid formation every time it is exhibited. AN OPEN BOOK disavows the notion that teaching and doing are separate projects, positing instead that the roles, like Ellmann’s works, are fluid rather than fixed.

In tribute to the generative exchange that occurs between teacher and student, AN OPEN BOOK is an attempt to create a parallel opportunity to between artist and viewer. In order to fully explore opportunities for the transaction of learning and making ideas, visitors are invited to interact with an installation of contextual materials, among them an iPad app where they can submit a digital rearrangement of PICTURE IT. At intervals a submission is selected to be mounted on the gallery wall, and all viewer re-arrangements are available to view on Tumblr. This exhibition and larger project is in part precisely about this collaboration. Ellmann’s work and the viewer’s response are a key subject of the show—a simultaneous exploration of the reflexive natures of artistic practice and aesthetic education; instruction and learning; experience and perception; subject and object.

Click here for the project website.

Click here for the exhibition catalog online.


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