Embracing all things ‘weird’

A 12-day exhibit at Tyler attempted to deconstruct unusual habits and behaviors.

Hannah Pigeon writes her own “weird habit” on a ball as part of an interactive exhibit. Greg Frangipani | TTN
Hannah Pigeon writes her own “weird habit” on a ball as part of an interactive exhibit. Greg Frangipani | TTN

Hannah Pigeon writes her own “weird habit” on a ball as part of an interactive exhibit. Greg Frangipani | TTN

For nearly two weeks, a sock drawer sat in the Lower Level Student Lounge Gallery at the Tyler School of Art. In the drawer, the clothing accessories were meticulously categorized by brand, separated by fabric, catalogued by length and organized by color – the artists wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The sock drawer was constructed as part of a collaboration between the visual studies curatorial lab and Tyler in an attempt to shed light on the “weird.”

Tyler students Rhiannon Bell, Josephine Consoli, Julia Cornelius, Emily Culver, Catherine Donohue and Rebecca McTeague created the work based on both their own and others’ unusual ritualistic habits.

The exhibition, titled “I Do This Weird Thing,” ran from Nov. 19-30. Strange habits addressed by the project ranged from an uncontrollable love for colored bandages to an obsession with hamsters.

The works displayed were largely sculptural pieces that represented “weird things” in connection to the artist. Among the pieces were a collection of both human and mammalian teeth, a gargantuan knitted sock titled “The Monster” and a roll of toilet paper encrypted with anti-feminist Bible verses.

“Weird is outlined solely by what that person [the artist] defines as weird,” senior artist and exhibitor Cornelius said.

Cornelius said the student-artists wanted to prove that not all habits are inherently weird, but rather deemed weird by individuals or society. The student-artists also envisioned and collaboratively constructed a centerpiece for the collection – a ball pit. Intended as an interactive component of the gallery, visitors were encouraged to write their weird habits on the balls provided and toss them back into the pit.

Members of the visual studies curatorial lab class at Tyler, comprised of between 12 and 14 students, worked from the beginning of Fall 2014 to prepare and present the exhibition as their major project for the course, which is designed to educate its students on the functions and procedures of art curation through a hands-on application.

The class was broken into groups of students that were designated certain tasks in administering the event. One group of students created a social media campaign to generate interest and incorporate added dimension to the exhibit in a digital form.

A video, shared via the exhibition’s Instagram account, displayed unidentified students and their commentary in regard to their own strange habits or obsessions. The video displayed the outlandish and often hidden habits of fellow Temple students.

The course instructor for visual studies curatorial lab, Sarah Archer, is a writer and a curator based in Philadelphia. Her writings appear The Huffington Post and Slate, and she works as the senior curator at the Philadelphia Art Alliance.

Archer mentions, in regard to the gallery’s philosophical juxtaposition, the idea that “weirdness is relative.” By openly displaying peculiar human habits, Archer said she believes they are normalized in the eyes of the public.

Finnian Saylor can be reached at finnian.saylor@temple.edu

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