Tom Stanley's uncertain, halting prose sets the tone for several pieces shown in the "Triennial Revisited" exhibit which opened Thursday at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art gallery of 701 Whaley St.
"Is this not deep enough for art. I mean that real high intellectual art. That art that is hard to understand. Is this too obvious. Is this not deep enough. WHAT IS DEEP ENOUGH. How deep is deep."
These words comprised Stanley's piece entitled "En Route to Hamlet," one work among pieces from 18 different artists in the exhibit.
Dealing with healing, inadequacies and religion, Stanley's piece is personal, as is evident in the handwritten, flowing script and small doodles scattered throughout. While most viewers didn't take the time to actually read the long blocks of text, those who did found a stream of consciousness that seemed to constantly relapse on itself.
"Triennial Revisited" is a juried exhibition of pieces from the five South Carolina "Triennial" exhibitions organized by the South Carolina Arts Commission and South Carolina State Museum between 1992 and 2004. During those years, the "Triennial" was considered one of South Carolina's most prestigious surveys of contemporary art. This exhibition was created to expose a new generation of artist patrons and admirers to the work of proven artists South Carolina artists.
"It's a wonderful show, and part of the reason it is so wonderful is because it is a reprise of the 'Triennials,'" said Brad Collins, chair of USC's art department. "There's a lot of quality artists showing who haven't shown in a long time in Columbia."
Collins was one of seven on the curatorial committee, composed of individuals who were involved with one or more of the five "Triennials."
Stanley's piece was not the only one from the 1998 "Triennial" that was revisited. John Acorn's "As a Lure No. 1" was presented as well. A part of a series of pieces created from a 3-inch image of a camouflage suite in the newspaper that the artist blew up into a 7-foot, three-dimensional figure, the piece is made of wood, metal and cloth and features the figure with enlarged fishing lures hanging like scales off its body.
Envisioned by the artist to be presented at much higher than possible at the 701 CCA gallery (Acorn prefers the piece to hang above the heads of viewers as though the piece were a lure floating above a fish in the ocean), the piece certainly makes a powerful impact in the space.
One of the more political pieces was Colin Quashie's, which was presented in the 1992 "Triennial." A mixed media piece entitled "Blackbored" read, "ALL COURSES CANCELED DUE TO LOW ENROLLMENT — NON-CREDIT COURSES AVAILABLE AT THE DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS," written by Professor P. Rolle for his African American Studies class.
Quashie said that he frequently changes what's written on the blackboard of his piece.
"My last one was about 'racalgebra,'" Quashie said. "'What's the value of a n------?' was the question."
The question caused some to answer via the notepad set on the lone desk that comprises one component of the pieces.
With more than 250 guests coming out for the opening reception, "Triennial Revisited" provides an educational look back to some of the forgotten artists of our state while prompting the art scene to get ready for 701's South Carolina Biennial set to debut on Oct. 6.
The "Triennial Revisited" exhibit will run through Sept. 25.