One-night-only exhibition welcomes new and alumni to Stanford’s visual arts scene
The sounds of avant-garde experimental lo-fi and a looping animation of a Na’vi woman from James Caemron’s “Avatar” riding a motorbike set the scene at Roble Arts Gym this past Saturday. The video was part of a one-night-only student art exhibit titled “Synth” that was set up and taken down in the space of five and a half hours. The show featured pieces of an open appeal to campus artists.
“It was just this crazy roller coaster of parts and moving parts. We hung the last piece around five o’clock. We even lined the walls of the exhibition with this black garbage bag packaging. I wanted it to look like what we did, like it was something the students were doing independently, ”said exhibition curator and“ Avatar ”animation creator Gunner Dongieux ’22. .
The the show’s overall theme explored the return to life after quarantine, and its multimedia curation featured works including small-scale paintings, a recycled corset, a life-size oil portrait, experimental photographs, a collage satirical map of the world and a large four foot cardboard sculpture.
While reviewing student submissions for the exhibition, Dongieux noticed “patterns of growth [and] fracture ”that he hoped to highlight in the Stanford post-pandemic community. The rambling backdrop and various media on display seemed appropriate given the current state of the campus: the fragmented and contrived interactions experienced during isolation are replaced by the community and organic realities of a neighborhood in person.
At the show, Bhumikorn “Bhu” Kongtaveelert ’25, who is a writer for The Daily, presented a trio of gouache paintings showing greenery growing between the cracks in the street.
“I started it in Thailand,” Kongtaveelert said. “Back then it was politically turbulent and people were very polarized. I finished it here. I thought that was a funny parallel – because America is very fragmented, and as an international student it’s like, ‘wow, alright, [America is] progressive, but also so divided.
Kongtaveelert hopes to submit more pieces to upcoming student exhibitions, and to future gallery visitors he suggests, “instead of asking ‘how did you do this’ ask ‘why are you doing this?’ The why is also important.
One of Dongieux’s goals for the exhibition aligned with the larger mission of fostering a thriving and interconnected arts community at Stanford – from young people to seniors, from artistic practice to computer majors. Synth has assembled a body of interdisciplinary and intergenerational work.
As a staff member at Burbank, home of Stanford ITALIC’s Art Immersion Program, Dongieux was able to spread the word to new artists on campus and help them jump-start their artistic careers at Stanford by participating in the show. Burbank resident Eli Aurgello ’25 whose piece – a corset recycled from corduroy pants – was on display, enjoyed the exhibit as an opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of being an artist at Stanford.
“I heard about the major in art practice and what the studio spaces look like here. It really opened my eyes, ”said Aurgello.
Dongieux will follow up on this project by organizing another open call exhibition next quarter. He encourages all artists to submit their work, and he hopes the entire Stanford community will come to see the show.
“This one was definitely the first rambling round, but hopefully showing the university that we did this and that everything went really well, they’ll give us a better space for more time,” said Dongieux.