What do a woman sawing off the legs of a chair she is sitting in and a pig standing on a bed have in common?
Both are pieces of art from two Kansas University graduate art students, Minerva Ortiz and Jody Wood, who visited Emporia State’s Art Forum yesterday to speak to a crowd that nearly filled Science Hall 72.
“It’s really great to see people coming out of a program that we could very easily be going into,” said Winston Walker, senior art major. “I think it was interesting that they were both dealing with things that were very close to them. … They were both dealing with stuff that was not foreign to them so it was very real and had a lot to do with things that happen to them every day or they would think about every day.”
Ortiz is a painter who works with oil paints and Wood is a performance artist. Ortiz received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California Santa Cruz.
“I had a lot of questions and (art) allowed me to make these questions tangible,” Ortiz said. “I could make something that I can show for these abstract thoughts that I had or was considering. It didn’t have to be so absolute. … It’s strange, because it’s not like, ‘oh, I have this answer in my head,’ it’s like a feeling.”
Wood attended Seattle Pacific University, where she graduated with a degree in English. She says that her style of performance art is to take the art out of the gallery and into the public’s eye.
“The performance art I’m really interested in right now always requires some kind of interaction with the public and that really sustains me because it puts my art into a real world context,” Wood said. “The idea is to develop by just interacting with other people, bouncing ideas off of them and seeing how they are reacting to the situation. It’s very sustaining to constantly be in contact with other people. It’s challenging, but it’s sustaining.”
Ortiz said she first started with family portraits, trying to honor both the flaws and the virtues of her subjects. An example is a painting of her grandmother who she described as kind, but also controlling. In the painting, her grandmother looks out at the viewer while a German Shepherd dog is standing next to her. She holds the dog’s head dominantly and tightly to her body while clutching its red collar.
“In a sense of it, (paint) lets you create anything,” Ortiz said. “It’s like the universal matter. It’s so pliable and you can create anything. I could paint an instrument, people. It’s like substance, raw creation.”
An example of Wood’s work was a booth in a gallery where visitors put on headphones and listened to interviews with various women about what makes them feel comfortable while, at the same time, watching a video of Wood physically fighting other women in a public setting.
“Usually, it stems from something that’s difficult for me reconcile,” Wood said. “Making art about it allows me to search for answers and experiment. Usually, in my work, I can break social rules I wouldn’t normally be able to break living daily life.”