Fine Arts

Gallery shines on texting while driving

The Blaffer Art Museum held its third and final Gallery Talk on Thursday featuring the artists from the MFA Thesis exhibit, currently on display.

Sociology junior Jason Crockett said he thought third-year studio art graduate Rhonda Wolverton’s installation of her “TTYL” series was informative in an indirect way.

“I believe that seeing artwork like that or seeing life lessons like that will make the person take it a little better versus someone saying firmly, ‘Stop texting and driving,’” Crockett said. “Artwork like that really speaks.”

Crockett added that the self-titled “TTYL” is a reminder that someone can actually die at the corner due to texting and driving.

“You actually need to take your eyes off the road just to read the text message. Just for that split second, you look up and it’s like, ‘Oh, my god! I just killed or injured someone!’” Crockett said. “Don’t die over L-O-L.”

Nutrition junior Natalie Avina said the exhibit makes the viewer stop and think.

“It puts a visual on death and text messaging that you wouldn’t expect,” Avina said. “When you see the cross and you know that someone died because of that, it makes you put a greater value on life instead of thinking it’s OK to text and drive. I don’t believe in texting and driving. That’s for stupid people.”

The Daily Cougar sat down with Wolverton to discuss her exhibition.

The Daily Cougar: You mentioned the current situation of texting and driving inspired you to create these pieces. How long did it take you?

Rhonda Wolverton: I kind of work through them in two semesters. As far as making the piece, it didn’t take that long. This was one of these projects where, once I decided on texting and driving, that my wheels started spinning. In fact, just yesterday I just created more work on it yesterday that’s not even in the show, and my class was like, ‘You’re done. Why are you creating more work?’ But it was just things that felt like it needed to be part of it in some way. A lot of my project was finding the right space to photograph it in, because I knew I wasn’t going to bring most of it inside the gallery. So I did a lot of trying to figure out, taking a lot of pictures on several occasions, so that’s really what took a semester long. It was trying to find the right context so the message would be powerful. So then I had to decide which ones worked together and looks decent on the wall together.

The reaction time takes longer and slower from someone texting or reading a text to stop than someone who’s drunk.

TDC: What exactly inspired to go with texting and driving as your motif?

RW: It felt like it was an issue that I can understand. Part of when you’re looking for design for social good, you need to immerse yourself in the community. I did a lot of looking at different communities going in and trying to figure out. I didn’t really have a drop-off point, as far as I didn’t have someone that I knew had an illness of some sort or felt particularly strong about any issues. Same with texting and driving. I don’t have a personal story about it. But later on, one of my niece’s friends passed away while I was working on this project through a texting accident, and that was in the Dallas area. But it was my personal conviction that I felt like design needed to be about people. And I felt it was an issue that I had something to say about, and that I could at least remind somebody, and if nothing else, it’s reminding me.

TDC: Will much of your work in the future have something to say, or will it vary, depending on your work?

RW: It may be a lot of variety. I’m making sure it’s about the people and the reaction that people have. There’s this idea of relational art and of how the audience is interacting with the things that you’re saying. Those are things that I’m interested in. I don’t necessarily have to look at everything (through) the lens of design for social good. I can just look at ways that I feel are affecting people rather than that bottom line that I spoke about in Gallery Talk.

TDC: Is there anything else you want someone to know about the exhibit or your work?

RW: Come see this art. There’s a lot of wonderful art this year. There’s fantastic teaching and fantastic opportunities all of us have had here, and there’s so many people that have something to say and to offer to the world. It’s about ideas, and there’s just some wonderful things here.

The exhibit will remain on display until April 19.

For more information, visit the Blaffer Art Museum website.

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