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Students’ class project results in online exhibition

December 7th, 2006

Self-soul exhibit
Through Dec. 30
Student Art League’s Rouge Noir Gallery, 333 E. Market St., beside the Residence Inn Hotel. Hours are 1– 4 p.m. Saturdays, but the pieces are visible otherwise through windows along Market. Online exhibit
Admission is free and open to the public


An image from the exhibition invitation.

Freshmen in a University of Louisville fine arts class got a quick introduction to the world of the exhibiting artist and wound up in an international display of their creations.

When students registered for Ying Kit Chan’s two-dimensional design class, they had no idea that they would go from soul-searching class project to hanging an exhibit to enjoying a downtown opening reception in just a few weeks — nor that their artwork would be online in an exhibition with pieces by students at a Chinese university.

It all began with an August e-mail from Tom Chambers, an American artist who’s a visiting lecturer in digital and new media art at Zhaoqing University; Chambers had collaborated with other schools in the past. Chan already had planned a digital self-portrait project for his students this fall, so the teachers settled on expanding the idea to involve questions about “soul.”

The students started out with several versions of a photograph of themselves and were asked to think of things they value.

“I also asked them to read about thinkers and philosophers” and to consider religious texts too if they wanted, Chan said.

The students used Adobe Photoshop editing software to manipulate the images and add in objects or scenes for the background to represent aspects of their lives.

“What’s important is not the final product but the process,” Chan said. “It’s hard in modern life to slow down” for self-examination and contemplation.

While Chan’s 20 students were producing their self-portraits, Chambers’ 30 freshmen students were working on theirs. The results are displayed in two online shows and two physical shows, at a downtown Louisville gallery and in Zhaoqing in southern China.

Chan’s students turned in their final images Nov. 27; the portraits were hung two days later. Two days after that the students were attending the opening reception for their work during the downtown art Trolley Hop event when stores and galleries stay open later for visitors.

“I think they really enjoyed it,” Chan said of his students. “I hope it will get them interested and energized and wanting to do better — and excited about becoming an artist.”

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