Invisible Cities: A student-curated exhibit

by Minji Kim

Two History of Art and Architecture concentrators, Nancy Lin ’11 and Anne Sawyier ’12, have proven that you don’t need any grant money to travel to exotic places. Their joint-curated exhibit, "Invisible Cities," which is displayed in the lower level lobby of CGIS South building, encourages the viewer to journey through the mental cities that comprise the landscape of the imagination. Deriving its name from Italo Calvino’s book which navigates through Marco Polo’s own imaginations of cities, "Invisible Cities" examines how one interprets the city, experiences travel, and thinks about travel.The cleanly executed exhibit is somewhat small, spanning just one large wall in the space. However, considering that undergraduates curated the show in a relatively short amount of time (curators usually take even up to a decade to curate exhibits), "Invisible Cities" had quite an impressive outcome. The entire lobby was filled with people nibbling cubes of cheese while pondering the works of their peers, with their peers.The works range from sculpture and oil paintings to photography and video installations, a variety of media that is reminiscent of the huge diversity of what a city can mean for each individual. The solicitations for pieces representing students’ own conceptions of travel met with a great number of submissions, but the curators specifically searched for a wide range of media to represent their theme, as well as a diversity of subjects to reflect the individuality of each artist."We wanted to work with as many people as possible, so we decided on a broader topic than just one place of interest. We wanted the works to be based on the personal experiences, ideas, and memories of the artists," Sawyier said.The idea for the exhibit arose from a dual desire to provide a venue for student artists to display their talent and provide a philosophical exploration of the meaning and concept of travel. The discussion for such a project developed from organic conversations between the two curators, based on their own experiences and thoughts about voyages to foreign lands."I came back to New York from being abroad in Italy really itching to travel again. It was really annoying," Lin said with a laugh. "So I decided to play a mind game with myself where I pretended I was experiencing New York like a tourist. That got me wondering about what people are looking for when they travel. What are we thinking about when we travel?"Given the subjective nature of the exhibition theme, however, the curators agree that the artists truly took the reins on the original idea."At the end of the day, it’s more about what the artists have made the exhibit into," said Lin."Invisible Cities" will be on display until April 20. []