Project livens Art Building with do-it-yourself attitude

Leia Karimul Bashar

The photographs in the Washburn University Art Building’s gallery are covered in graffiti. All 160 have been defiled in some way – and the curator of the exhibit couldn’t be happier about it.

The photographs are part of an interactive exhibit designed to stimulate people’s creativity. Ye Wang, assistant professor of art, has hung 160 black-and-white photographs on a wall in the Art Building gallery. Each picture displays people in different poses. Some are standing on their hands, while others are sitting on the ground or leaping through the air. Colored pencils, markers and pastels sit in trays near the pictures. Wang hopes people will be inspired to color and draw on the photographs so the art will evolve beyond its original state.

So far, anonymous participants have added witty and creative designs to the pictures. Although clown faces are a common theme and beards and mustaches have been added to many of the women’s faces, there are also more inspired designs. Wang pointed out a picture of a woman standing with her arms outstretched, holding onto a jacket. An anonymous artist added teeth, eyes and a mouth to the jacket so it appears to be eating her arm.

“Look at this,” said Wang. “It’s so clever. Somebody made her jacket look like a monster.”

Wang admitted people sometimes make dirty pictures when they draw on the photos, but he says it doesn’t bother him.

“Sometimes people do things that aren’t very mature, but that is kind of anticipated,” said Wang.

He added that he normally would not mind nudity on the pictures because he considers it art. However, he does not want to offend people with conservative tastes, so the art secretary replaces pictures if they become too risqué.

Dannie Boucher, a freshman who works for the art department secretary, said it is not unusual to replace the photographs with new ones.

“Most of the time people draw on the pictures to be funny,” said Boucher, “but when people draw naughty things on them we have to take them down.”

Wang encouraged students from other departments to come to the Art Building and work on the pictures.

“Art should be for everyone, not only artists,” said Wang. “Everyone has the desire to create something. A lot of people don’t think they have the talent, but with this there’s no judgment, and they may create some surprising stuff. Everyone can have fun. Just use your imagination and your sense of humor. It’s an interactive project – everybody creates the piece, and so everybody is the artist.”

The art project will be featured in the art building gallery until the end of February. It is free of charge and open during school hours.