“What’s at Stake” at the Schneider Museum

The  Schneider Museum of Art is truly the hidden gem on campus at SOU. Nestled between the Art Building and the Marion Ady Studio, The museum holds a rotating collection of pieces in its front gallery, along with an exhibit in the back that rotates seasonally. The current exhibit is “What’s at Stake”- a meditation on war, religion, and the aftermath of colonization. 

The experience of walking through the exhibit is a thought-provoking meditation on the cost of war. Pieces on display are visually striking, made even more haunting by the soundscape of the short films reverberating from the back gallery. Artists Masami Teraoka, Al Farrow, and Zelinia Barakeh created pieces that demand your attention, and the vivid imagery lingers in your mind long after your visit to the museum is over. As the gallery statement by curator Catherine Clark puts it, this exhibit “Asks us to pause and reflect on our collective responsibility to one another, and what’s at stake when we allow violence to go unchecked” 

Across the walls of the Main Gallery are Masami Teraoka’s series of captivating gilded Triptychs, blending the traditional Japanese art style of Ukiyo-e with Western religious imagery. Some depict members of the Russian political performance group Pussy Riot as saints, overlooking scenes of mass destruction. Others, like a piece entitled Evacuation, show a city-turned-warzone with ballerinas dancing amid the wreckage. The term “Ukiyo-e” can be translated as either “Floating World” or “Contemporary Suffering”, and Teraoka’s work seamlessly juxtaposes these two ideas. 

Also populating the main gallery is All Farrow’s series of sculptures, recreating places of worship and religious reliquaries- primarily out of guns, bullets, and other recycled acrutromones of war. The pieces are very textural, all rusted brass and bullet casings combined with broken glass and bone fragments. A standout piece of Farrow’s display is Vandalized Mosque Door from 2016, using ammo boxes and bomb parts in addition to repurposed munitions to create the piece. From a distance, the piece looks merely like a well-worn door set in a brick wall. But the piece draws the eye into its bleak details, from bullet holes puncturing the sculpture to the oxidation of the bullet magazine giving the piece a turquoise hue.

 Rounding out the exhibit is the work of Zelinia Barakeh, a Palestinian-Lebanese artist whose work is described as “both humorous and unsettling” by the curator statement. Her three short films, Homeland Insecurity, Slam Bang Blue, and  Projections Trom The Third Half [Cloud Storm] are played on a loop in the back Treehaven Gallery, and all are a surreal viewing experience. They share a common motif of an army of centaurs versus an army of horse people in a neverending battle against a desert landscape. The paper-doll-esque animations converge, dissolve, and distort in captivating ways. Stills from the short films are framed in the Heiter Gallery, next to the illuminated text of the United States Department of Defense Law of War Manual. These pieces highlight the dichotomy of the language of war on paper against the harsh realities of armed conflict. 

“What’s at Stake” will be on display until March 23rd, and should not be missed. The Schneider is free to the public, open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am-4 pm, and donations are always welcome. For a more guided experience, free tours are held every Tuesday at 12:30. More information can be found here [https://sma.sou.edu/]. 

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