Wayne Adams' Art Displayed Across King's Campus

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The King’s College, NEW YORK – New art on campus caused a buzz among students ever since the first day of the semester and various interpretations abound of the 25 pieces. The collection by Wayne Adams is on loan to King’s through June 2017. A majority of the pieces hang in the fifth floor Executive Suite, although several pieces hang in the lobby and the City Room.

“This is the second year we've featured art around campus, although this year it's on a much larger scale,” said Media, Culture and the Arts Program Chair Dr. Bleattler. “Last year most of the art was on the fifth floor in the executive suite. This year it's all over campus. I think it's a wonderful opportunity for our students to engage with the contemporary art world.”

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Adams is a Brooklyn-based artist and President of the Board of Christians in the Visual Arts, an organization dedicated to encouraging visual arts in the Church. Adams attended Calvin College for his B.F.A. and Washington University in St. Louis for his M.F.A. Previously, he exhibited his work in multiple cities across America as well as in Vienna, Austria.

King’s Presidential Scholar Dan Siedell followed Adams' work for over 10 years and Siedell’s class visited Adam’s studio in Brooklyn.

Many students find Adams’ work comical and sometimes jarring. The most noticeable of these pieces is "Sheep and Goat Hug It Out" -- a large canvas in the back of the City Room displaying a spray-painted sheep and goat hugging each other.

When asked about her initial reaction to the new art on display, King’s junior Abby Narbe said,“I thought it was ridiculous. I didn’t understand it. I still don’t understand it.”

Narbe is not alone in finding the art off-putting.

Michael Martinez ('18), said that, “I really am confused by the furry one," in regard to "Silver Void," hanging outside Eric Bennett’s office.

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However, both students agree that they do enjoy parts of Adams work.

“I think the sheep and goat one is cute,” Narbe stated.

“I really like the piece in the City Room," Martinez added.

Professor Siedell offered a helpful perspective.

“A work of art does a lot of things, and one of the things that it does is force the viewer to look at the world a different way. So, it wouldn't surprise me that some students might see the work  as ‘odd.’ And, given the fact that it seems obvious to me that humor is a part of this work, that they would experience them as ‘comical.’ It sounds to me that Wayne's work is doing its job," Siedell said

In a similar vein, Dr. Bleattler also thinks "Sheep and Goat Hug It Out" is meant to evoke a chorus of reactions, especially comedy. He believes students should think critically about "why they think what they think about" the art.

"Criticism, good and bad, needs to be backed up with real thought and not flippant dismissiveness," Bleattler noted. “I am particularly fascinated by his series of works on the first floor outside of the Admissions offices.  The works are almost optical illusions in the way he depicts the face of Christ (from the Shroud of Turin) using the Ben-Day dot technique of pulp comic books (think Roy Lichtenstein).  The farther away you are the more you can see the face.  I think they're terrific.”

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Junior MCA Major Hannah Gulledge likewise argued that Adams’s art deserves more consideration.

“I think people’s first reaction is to dismiss the art. I can see that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea,” Gulledge said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t respect it and the artist. We are really lucky that King’s has such great connections with working studio artists around the city; last year with Matt Kleburg and this year with Wayne Adams.”

Whether or not students appreciate Adams’s work, it is clear that Adams’s work evokes strong reactions.

“I think the art isn’t cohesive with the campus vibe. But at the end of the day, why not? It starts some conversation. I think it’s good," Martinez added.

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