All About the Concept

This past week our class visited the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas. The experience was overwhelming. We saw everything from a solar-powered-gigantic-hexagonal-web of colored wires to larger than life projections of the logging industry to obscure photographs laminated on the wall. One thing every exhibit had in common was its intense focus on the concept behind it. Nothing was simply “art for art’s sake”. The building as a whole had a very meticulous vibe to it. Everything had its place, nothing left to chance. The exhibits all seemed to balance each other out, the VAC had paintings, sculptures, and videos. I felt a strong connection with almost every exhibit, each provoking a reaction from a different part of myself. I think I felt the strongest connection to the photographs that were stuck directly on the walls. The lack of a frame and any three dimensional depth to the photos made the entire experience very intimate and allowed me to get closer than I probably usually would and create a relationship with each piece. The array of subjects and styles were also very intriguing. It seemed to have something for everyone.

As a (hopeful) future curator, this was simultaneously exciting and intimidating. I would love to bring work like that together but I also fear the need for the concept behind a work. I think many works stand for themselves and giving the audience the meaning or intent behind a work may jeopardize their experience.

Do these exhibits need their concepts to be known in advance? Would they have been more or less impactful if you did not know the artists’ intentions?




  1. It strikes me that some exhibits that we looked at needed an explanation, or pamphlet, or written introduction on the wall as a guide into the mood of the collection. For example, we had just finished touring the poster exhibit, which had a sort of imaginative, whimsical feeling to it, when we went into the last exhibit featuring many different media (video, photos, drawings, texts, cast metal…) with a much more serious atmosphere to it. I feel the last exhibit needed the short introduction as a way to brace ourselves for it, when the poster exhibit could be figured out/ explained/ interpreted on it’s own.


  2. I honestly thought i was the only one who felt overwhelmed! This experience was a great eye opener and you hit right on the target with the concept being behind it all. Just having the concept strategies is a great skill to have and to manipulate. In my opinion I feel it would be less impactful if the viewer did not know the artist intentions because they then it would be like “art for art sake’s”. Without having a real purpose behind it. However, the concept does not need to be known in advance I feel like the epiphany they have afterwards learning about the concept it creates a big impact on the viewer.

    -Marlene Gallegos


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