Tyler Stallings is not your typical triple threat. He isn’t a dancer, a singer or an actor. He doesn’t play sports either. Instead, he makes things as an artist, he organizes things as a curator and he puts things back together as a writer. Art is his life.
Stallings spoke about his latest curatorial work and his philosophy on art as the guest lecturer for the Visual Arts Guest Lecture Series funded by the College of Liberal Arts.
“With the economic crash, it’s an opportunity to remind ourselves what art can be,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be about making objects for sale, but a way of thinking and approaching the world.”
His hour-long lecture focused on how he addresses life with this artistic sensibility.
“The idea of painting and drawing is a process for thinking and a process for note taking that I’m familiar with,” he said.
As the director of the Sweeney Art Gallery at the University of California, Riverside, Stallings commented on his most recent curatorial work titled “Intelligent Design: Interspecies Art.”
Stallings, along with Los Angeles based artist Rachel Mayeri, put together the work in the exhibit. Artists collaborated with cockroaches, dogs, ants, monkeys and other species, in hope to converse with the animal world.
Jill Greenberg, a celebrity photographer, photographed monkeys posed with human mannerisms. Through the work of Greenberg and 19 other artists, “Intelligent Design: Interspecies Art,” asks viewers to explore our interaction with animals and ultimately challenge the human-centric perspective.
Stallings timed the exhibit near Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication “On the Origin of Species.”
“Usually when I do a thematic exhibition I try to time it with a broader cultural event so it’s tied into a larger dialogue,” he said.
Other artists interested in this paradigm shift include Sean Dockray. Dockray created a computer program to trace the pheromone trails of ants. The trail symbolizes a system humans can’t see or detect.
Audience members laughed when Stallings spoke on Nina Katchadourian’s work titled “Continuum of Cute.”
Katchadourian focused on the concept that in animal conservation, cute furry animals with large eyes tend to be the ones that are saved. She created a 20-foot long banner of Internet animal images based on their “cuteness factor.”
Michael Miller, art and design professor, has been organizing the lecture series for the past 11 years. Miller focuses the event on finding diverse and interdisciplinary speakers.
“Tyler fits this model perfectly, as a painter, curator and writer,” he said.
When Miller began teaching in the art and design department, the major did not have a studio art concentration. After the concentration was established, he wanted a way for the students to see work outside the walls of Cal Poly.
Art and design students in attendance agreed it was important to see how other artists work and are inspired. One of them was Karolin Ivarsson, an art and design senior concentrating in studio art.
“The lecture showed a wider variety of work than what teachers show,” Ivarsson said.