Step one: Grab an object attached to a string and carefully place it inside of a box.
For audience members, attending the opening night of Calvin Brett’s exhibition, “Packaging Space” the typical gallery rule, “do not touch”, was turned on its head. On Friday night, January 26th, the Cameron Gallery, housed inside The Scrap Exchange, filled with curious visitors who, following the guidelines laid out by the artist, selected objects from around the room and placed them inside of cardboard boxes affixed to the walls. Pill bottles, stuffed animals, plastic eggs and cups, 4th place ribbons and rolls of film were among the objects attached to strings and brimming from shopping carts that audience members could
At one point, the artist entered the gallery and wondered aloud, “why is it so quiet in here? I didn’t say people had to do that.” Anne Gregory-Bepler, another artist who collaborated on the show replied, “well, I think people are really concentrating!”
This moment indicated that one of the goals of the project had been achieved. Brett said he was “[Hopeful] to inspire people who don’t traditionally consider themselves to be creators to see that … we’ve all got some kind of capacity to make.”
In addition to realizing their own creative potential, the gallery aimed to have audience members think more deeply about the ecological impact of consumer society. A statement, posted next to the curtain of black rubber inner tubes that functioned as the entrance reads, “We aim to increase our consciousness as it pertains to reuse and promote creativity as an opposing force to entropy.”
On the back wall, a projector displayed short animations, one with cityscapes shrouded in smoke, contributed by artist Jenny Blazing. “Given this over-consumerism, consumption culture that we live in, there’s a way or even a need to work with some of this stuff that we just throw out,” said Brett.
While Brett was born in Brooklyn, he moved to Durham at the age of 12 and attended Durham Academy, where Gregory-Bepler has taught art for over 10 years. Gregory-Bepler brought her students into the gallery before it opened to help cover the walls in cardboard, completing the gallery’s aesthetic.
Brett further extended the gallery’s reach out into the community with a live stream that showed participants engaging with the materials around the room. In addition to Brett, Blazing, and Gregory-Bepler, artists Aisha Sanders, Carin Walsh, and Jaclyn Bowie contributed their labor towards bringing together this exhibition. The installation will remain in the Cameron Gallery until February 10th.
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