Between prelim season and the changing of seasons, campus has become a lot more serious. For those of us who stayed in Ithaca over fall break, this somber ambience was made all the more obvious by the quiet lull that overtook our emptied dorm buildings.
As a way of brightening our moods despite the ever-earlier setting of the October sun, a friend and I took a day trip to Center Ithaca to see its newest art installation: The BEYOND Art Lounge. There, I interviewed local artists Damaris Vasquez and Myztico Campo, whose art can be found all throughout the immersive art exhibit. Aptly named Ultraviolet Alchemy, the duo’s work features psychedelic neons emphasized under the black lights above — colors that give the fall trees just outside a run for their money.
From interactive volleyball video games to donut generators, the art itself invites you to engage and release your inner child. “You know, Picasso said that art is the lie that tells the truth,” Vazquez says while talking about this element. Artists have the ability to take reality into their own hands and “subvert that, and what I personally feel when I tap in to do that is the ‘child’ — who is actually much wiser.”
Professing the need to tap into ‘the inner child,’ Vasquez removes the stiff stereotype traditionally associated with galleries and, in its place, welcomes play. “It’s an illusion that children are these empty things that we need to fill with information,” she continues. In actuality, “children are what we are and it’s very close to divine — and play and art and humor and song and music, that’s all god’s language, goddess’ langage. That’s whatever we’re here to do. We’re here to create, you know, like you say it. And so artists, like comedians, are very much the philosophers that get to kind of play.”
Heeding this ‘philosophy,’ in the time that I spent at the Lounge I was able to learn felting, ask a skeleton to read my fortune and even try on a tutu — yes, the tutu was essential.
“It’s amazing how you could change someone’s mood by putting a tutu on!” Vasquez exclaimed as she suggested doing this. And it’s true: The silliness of putting on a tutu in public is an experience sure to make anyone laugh. In fact, the act of putting a piece of the exhibit, the art, onto myself was another level of immersion into the space — not only was I interacting with art, but I sort-of became it, which, according to Vasquez, is next to divine. This totally non-serious act is, in actuality, something truly meaningful without all the heaviness. Light and airy, the tutu tied around my waist in turn tied together the BEYOND Art experience. “I just like the spirit of play. You know?”
Now, I do — and I invite other overworked and hyper-stressed Cornellians to know it too. The spirit of play is what allows you to really connect with the art. Opposing the stuffy art museum archetype in both name and atmosphere, the Lounge provides a laid-back environment conducive to recreation and relaxation. It seems to say, forget about that chem prelim for a little while — it’ll be waiting for you on the other side of the slope. For now, try on a tutu or pull the strings of the Penumbra.
Channel your inner child and experience life a little less seriously in between study sessions. Life is short and so is this interactive experience, open only until Oct. 31, 2021. After all, Vasquez “consider[s] life performance. It becomes like performance art.” Immerse yourself in something other than your class notes and treat life like your own work of art.
Ashley Koca is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].