Volitia Turns Around: The Shen’s New Interactive Exhibit
On Friday, November 17th, Ms. Melissa Marks, an avid artist, creative mastermind, and Packer mother, entered the Carol Shen Gallery with a vision, ready to spend the next three weeks creating Packer’s esteemed art hub’s newest installation.
The gallery’s newest exhibit, entitled Volitia Turns Around, is a live experience highlighting the metaphorical and physical embodiment of the drawn mark, which Ms. Marks calls “Volitia.” In her essence, Volitia is represented through “abstract drip… calligraphic gesture… [and] accomplished stroke”. Volitia Turns Around will underline the connections and interactions between Volitia and the people of Packer.
“I have an idea that the drawn mark has an interior life of its own and has its own imagination, generating fantasies, drawings, action. The drawn mark has a name: Volitia, as in volition, and the project at the Shen will be a Volitia adventure,” said Ms. Marks. “I will play with the shape of the room; there’s two entrances or two exits, depending on the way you see it, and the drawing will respond to the way people move through the space.”
Ms. Marks tackled the task that is inhabiting the Shen in a flexible manner, taking the project day by day and letting it run its course however it may. She filled the length of many panels on one side of the gallery with black and white drawings following a circular abstract design. The other wall is occupied by a multitude of smaller, colorful, and florally-inspired works. Overall, the composition of these pieces and the installation altogether are centered around Volitia’s interaction with the student life in the Shen.
Michael Miller, Upper School Digital Video teacher and leading coordinator of Volitia Turns Around, has high hopes for the impact of Ms. Marks’s installation on the Packer community.
“I think that students are going to be energized and inspired by Ms. Marks’s work,” said Mr. Miller. “I hope that students will see the work and they will have a dialogue with Ms. Marks, and it’s my hope that they will gain inspiration and maybe take on installation art of their own.”
The way that Ms. Marks is choosing to present her work is not arbitrary; she hopes that over the process of creating Volitia Turns Around, members of the Packer community will utilize the opportunity to communicate with her about her artwork and interact with it themselves.
“I enjoy the opportunity to work in a public space, to draw directly on the wall while traffic moves in and out of the gallery.” said Ms. Marks, describing the arrangement of the project. “Sometimes I can overhear commentary, sometimes I get questions, and I find that really enriches the project.”
In the midst of Packer’s crowded hallways and rigorous classes, the Carol Shen Gallery remains a peaceful haven full of thought-provoking artwork. Although Ms. Marks’s Volitia Turns Around is one name on a list of over 50 past exhibits that have inhabited the Shen, its emphasis on life and motion, bright colors, and vivid character are unique.
Volitia Turns Around will took about three weeks to complete entirely. The process of the creation of this interactive exhibit is open to all members of the Packer community, but its official opening took place on Tuesday, December 12th. This contemporary piece is exciting and one-of-a-kind, and should absolutely not be missed.