Community members gathered at 3 Dots Downtown on Tuesday evening to view the “False Venus” sculpture exhibit by local State College artist Yiwei Leo Wang.
Wang, a 2021 Penn State graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sculpture and landscape architecture and a local sculptor, presented several of his sculptures and discussed them with the public at the event. Food and drinks were provided by Duck Donuts and Big Spring Spirits.
3 Dots, a community space focused on artistic and innovative experiences at the corner of East Beaver Avenue and South Pugh Street, recently reopened on June 1 after being closed throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuesday’s event was the first “Meet the Artist” part of the 3 Dots “Tuesdays on the Terrace” event series.
The Faux Venus exhibition, which will be up until July 19, contained several works intended to focus on “key phenomena in today’s media and youth pop culture” and address several issues such as the body image, gender stereotypes and power dynamics in sexual relationships. Wang said.
Wang, dressed in a glittering graduation gown covered with 2,021 pieces of rhinestone, strolled through the crowded event space describing his thoughts behind his work and answering questions from the crowd.
The first piece Wang mentioned was “Radiant,” a disco ball shaped like his own head, with pink and white light reflecting off the hundreds of hand-placed mirrors. This piece, along with the guillotine-shaped “Blinds to LIVE”, were the two largest sculptures in the Faux Venus series.
Wang began to discuss some of the philosophies behind the art of the False Venus by presenting “Silk”. The work consists of two pink and gold scarves, which look exactly alike, but one is 100% silk and the other is 100% faux silk.
Both scarves were printed for Wang by a student in China. Wang said he believed the “Made in China” label on clothing could lead people to believe something was “less valuable”.
The two scarves look identical, but Wang said the silk scarf could be considered more valuable simply because of the material it was made from. According to Wang, people often place a value on works of art that are completely separate from the sum of its parts, and this “value” can become completely arbitrary.
Wang likened it to buying a drawing.
“The canvas can cost $ 10 and the acrylics can cost $ 5, but the design will cost more,” Wang said. “Art is not only the value of the material but the value of the design.”
A participant asked Wang which scarf was made of real silk, but he didn’t answer because he said, “It doesn’t matter.”
After showing off several other sculptures, Wang finally approached the largest in the collection – “Blinds to LIVE”.
The guillotine-shaped room, which features blinds in place of a slat, represents the entertainment associated with serious topics in today’s society like politics and religion, according to Wang.
“Everything has to be entertaining to get attention,” Wang said. “So even the process of cutting off the head has to be super relaxed and entertaining.”
The entire 3 Dots gallery erupted into applause after Wang’s closing remarks on the meaning of “False Venus” and how she portrays her character.
The crowd then dispersed and began to mingle with Wang as some enjoyed donuts and cocktails, both specially made to complement his art.
Duck Donuts served pink and gold donuts, and Big Spring Spirits served a drink with edible gold sprinkles to “suit the occasion,” according to Kevin Lloyd, a spokesperson for Big Spring Spirits.
Wang, who will be moving to Chicago in the fall to pursue graduate studies at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, said he was grateful to everyone who came to the show. He also said he was happy to finally be able to “express himself” through his art now that the galleries are reopening after the pandemic.
3 Dots Executive Director Erica Quinn said she was happy to kick off the summer with Wang’s show, and she said she was excited for the rest of the summer.
Quinn said that after Wang’s Faux Venus exhibition, the community space plans to showcase more artists. 3 Dots will soon launch a social media app for local artists who want to showcase their work in the gallery.
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