Artist speaks at NMU

Kayla McLane

On Thursday night, about 30 students and faculty members filed into the stadium seating of the lecture hall of the Art and Design building to listen to a Canadian-native artist discuss his artwork titled, “Untitled Projects.”

The School of Art and Design brought artist Conrad Bakker to campus on March 26 in conjunction with the METAMODERN show in the DeVos Art Museum. Bakker had works showcased in the exhibition, which ran from Jan. 20 to March 27. Bakker’s artist lecture showcased his work “Untitled Projects,” which has been Bakker’s focus for 20 years. The project is a large series comprised of many different, but interrelated projects.

“This makes it sound like I knew what I was doing, but really I was figuring it out as I went along,” Bakker said.

An Illinois-based artist, Bakker traveled to Marquette to discuss “Untitled Projects,” which is a series of wood sculptures carved as ordinary objects painted with oil paints and placed back in the world. His work is intended to comment on the relationship between consumer and commodity.

“I describe ‘Untitled Projects’ as sculptures that are fake versions of real things intentionally constructed by hand out of wood and paint and designed to move somewhat awkwardly through a given economic system, bumping and denting a trail, revealing a trajectory that begins to make tangible the processes of production, distribution and exchange that surround things,” Bakker said.

His work is the subject of both articles and reviews in publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Chicago Tribune and Artforum. Bakker has been internationally exhibited in museums such as Tate Modern in London and Galerie Analix Forever in Geneva.

During the artist lecture, Bakker discussed ideas of consumerism, representation of everyday objects, culture and economics. Objects can become politically active when they become platforms for which we gather and debate, he said.

“Artworks create a space for conversation to happen,” Bakker said.

He is a big name in the art world, Christine Lenzen, assistant professor of photography, said.

“It is exciting to get him here to Marquette,” Lenzen said. “His work is cross-disciplinary, and he is engaging to students of all disciplines.”

At the conclusion of the lecture, the art and design department hosted a reception in the lobby. Bakker further discussed and answered questions about his artwork.

“I liked how he recontextualizes everyday objects and makes us rethink the vernacular,” Molly Wetter, a junior human centered design major, said.

The next exhibition at the DeVos Art Museum is this semester’s senior exhibition, titled 62-Point Perspective, running April 13-29. This exhibition showcases seniors working in all concentrations of the School of Art and Design. A closing reception will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 29.