During a lecture, presentation or meeting, hands often have a mind of their own. Surrealist artists called the shapes that fill notebooks and scrap paper "automatic drawing." Most people just call them "doodles." From July 24 to Aug. 17, 2008, the McClelland Art Gallery will host "Margins," an exhibition of art created while the mind is otherwise occupied.
Comprised of submissions from Union College employees and students, the exhibit features art created on whatever medium was available at the time. The pieces both honor and transcend their origins, such as "While Watching Seinfeld," a mixture of geometric and organic shapes surrounding a Sudoku puzzle by Angie Peach, director of major gift development in Union's Advancement Office.
"I've always doodled," said Peach. "In high school, I was embarrassed by my compulsive little patterns and would hide my notes. Now I allow myself larger areas and complete the thought. I've tried painting and I know I'll never be an artist, but the shapes that emerge when I'm not paying attention now hold a lot of personal value."
While doodling is sometimes a sign of boredom, more often it's an indication of a person's learning style. Drawing is one way visual-spatial learners adapt to learning environments designed for auditory-sequential thinkers.
"I'm blessed with a boss who understands that doodling actually helps me pay attention," said Jacque Smith, director of public relations. "In our staff meetings, typically about half of us doodle as a way to focus. I'm sure it's an odd sight to an onlooker who doesn't understand the purpose our scribbling serves."
"Margins" is about more than just learning styles; it's intended to be a fun re-framing of everyday art. Visitors are invited to draw their own doodles on pads provided and add them to the display.
"When I think about memorable experiences I've had in galleries, most of them revolve around artists who broadened or blasted my definition of art," said Scott Cushman, assistant director of public relations. "A bunch of non-artists putting our scratch paper on a gallery walls aren't going to make waves in the art world, but I hope it will give others new insights on their own margins."
The McClelland Art Gallery is in the Ortner Center on the Union College campus, 3800 S. 48th Street. Enter the campus from Prescott Avenue. The art gallery is free to the public and open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Ortner Center at 402.486.2545.
"While Watching Seinfeld," pencil on Sudoku by Angie Peach, one of the participating staff members.