Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Hands-on exhibit comes straight out of kindergarten

When the housing lottery treats you wrong, deadlines for those lengthy summer internship applications draw ever closer, and you don't even want to think of that 15-page paper you have due next week, it's easy to long for the comforts of kindergarten: construction paper came in every conceivable color, scissors were made for lefties and righties alike, and who can forget the familiar taste of paste?

But why stop at mere nostalgic reverie when you can grab some friends and hop on the T for a short trip to Central Square, the home of Art Interactive, where you can indulge in some creative R&R and color outside the lines to your heart's content.

Founded in 2001, Art Interactive is a non-profit gallery dedicated to showcasing experimental, participatory works while fostering self-expression and communal interaction. It takes a while to find its decidedly unobtrusive entrance (the bland, brown building has only a small sheet of paper tacked to the door to let you know you're in the right place). However, soon after ringing the bell, visitors are ushered inside to the unique 2,500-square foot space, whose foyer is currently graced by a Technicolor flock of cranes, an installation created by local origami artist Andrew Anselmo, who will be hosting a workshop at the gallery on March 24.

The white walls of the main gallery provide a blank canvas, while huge windows look out to the colorful chaos that is Central Square; the templates for the projects are scattered about, and this main room is also home to the workstations, aquamarine booths where you'll find all the supplies you need to take part in this interactive experience.

The current exhibition, "The Paper Sculpture Show," which runs through March 27, explores the manifold potential of this humblest of mediums. Organized by Cabinet Magazine, Independent Curators International, and SculptureCenter, the show invites guests to create 3-D paper projects designed by the 29 featured artists, and thus the works on display are all produced by the visitors-turned-collaborators. By blurring the line between artist and observer, this innovative exhibition asks open-ended questions about the nature of art: can anyone ever really own a work of art? And at what point is a work truly finished?

The playful assemblage of projects includes everything from origami-esque polygons to build, to a village of witches to burn. Some of the projects are just plain silly, like David Shrigley's "Paper Sculpture," whose directions tell you to "earmark the westernmost corner of the starboard half," before "puckering the evenly-divided plane," all to take you to the one-word 22nd step: unfold. Tah dah! You're left with your masterpiece ... a crumpled piece of paper.

Be forewarned: some of the projects are seriously challenging, like Ellen Wetmore's "Paper Pandalus." A pandalus, for those weak in crustacean classification, is a type of crayfish, and Wetmore's lengthy instructions detail all the cuts, lateral compressions, and manual maneuverings needed to assemble the impressive 3-D model.

Perhaps because of the challenging nature of some of the projects, many patrons chose to forgo the directives altogether and do their own thing, taking elements from different templates to fashion their own unique creations, like the bizarre dreamscape that had been displayed near my work station. These products were, in their way, no less powerful than the ones designed by the artists, reinforcing the dynamic role of the individual in transforming the two-dimensional materials into unique 3-D objects.

I decided to tackle a project designed by Ester Partegas, entitled "Things You Don't Like," which involved creating a recycling receptacle into which I would discard all my failings, written down on the paper provided. Although it sounds corny, assembling the project was a calming, meditative experience, and afterwards I felt a lovely sense of catharsis at "recycling" all my flaws into a work of art (I am, of course, using the term "art" very generously here) that would remain with the collection.

So whether you are seeking to indulge your passion for art, aching to prove to your friends that you're indie-er-than-thou, or are simply stressed out by your studies and in need of a few moments of kindergarten bliss, Art Interactive is a most offbeat and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.