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Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Art of Gentle Disturbance


Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Art of Gentle Disturbance

Artwork by Christo and Jeanne-Claude is hung in the first floor hallway of Grace Dodge Hall.

You might be wondering about the prints that are now on the walls of the first floor in Grace Dodge Hall.

The artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude donated the collection of 26 personally-signed prints that are on permanent display at TC. All the prints, which were created by the artists, depict their site specific, large-scale public art works, said Lisa Hochtritt, Doctoral Student in Art Education and Arts Education Coordinator at the Heritage School.

Graeme Sullivan, Associate Professor of Art Education, and Hochtritt have been working on this project, which was initiated by the TC Student Chapter of the National Arts Education Association, since October 2000 when they approached the artists and asked them to exhibit their work in the Macy Gallery. It was then that the artists donated the prints.

With Professor of Art Education Judith Burton's assistance and funds from Florence H. and Eugene E. Myers Charitable Remainders Unitrust, they framed the posters for the March 2001 Macy Gallery Exhibition. Now, they will remain in Grace Dodge Hall for the TC Community to enjoy.

This is not the first time that these artists have shared their time with TC, said Hochtritt. In 1995, they presented works in the Macy Gallery created for their proposed Central Park project. In acknowledgement of their great contributions to TC and the fields of arts and education, President Arthur Levine announced that Christo and Jeanne-Claude have been awarded the Cleveland E. Dodge Medal and will be honored at the Doctoral Convocation ceremony in May 2002.

The internationally renowned husband and wife team, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who have been collaborating since 1961, reside in New York City. They are currently working on a new project in Colorado entitled, "Over the River," and prints from the preliminary drawings for this project are included in TC's collection.

Their art is a practice that disrupts assumptions about permanence, ownership and categorization, said Sullivan and Hochtritt in an essay they wrote. It helps others to see and experience a relationship with the land, architecture, or space that was not there before. They create their projects in a site-specific way with references to the histories and human practices of the area. The fabric that they choose challenges perceptions of place and space as well as plays with color, light and elements of a region.

"The use of cloth in the history of art is as old as the history of art. Artists use the fabric in sculpture and painting and the fabric has taken enormous dimensions, enormous sizes, the fabric creates formality," said Christo and Jeanne-Claude. "This is why we do this in all projects, we play with fabric, using the resource of that material to create these works."

In some cases, even the difficulty in getting a permit or negotiating permissions help the artists to interpret the area, said Hochtritt and Sullivan. Jeanne-Claude likens it to the push and pull process of painting, "It is like one more layer on the painting. It is the way art is made. What is underneath is as important as the final brush stroke."

"There is an inherently educational experience located within the art practice of Christo and Jeanne-Claude," said Hochtritt. "They conceive of ideas and create works of art that others may see as impossible. In their words, 'to see it is to build it.' Their educational quest centers on exciting others about art in a way that emphasizes tangible, local events that challenge ideas about imaginative possibility."

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