Scholars discuss varying interpretations of visual art

The intended meanings, backgrounds and implications of different images came up during a panel’s analysis of the use of traditional techniques and subjects in contemporary works of art in an event held at the USC Fisher Museum of Art on Tuesday night.

Viewpoints · Panelists analyze specific pieces of art and their inferred meanings at an event held at the Fisher Museum of Art on Tuesday. – Alex Rose | Daily Trojan

Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye, a doctoral candidate in the art history department, discussed the processes involved in her dissertation’s analysis of a piece by artist Tatiana Parcero that involved a black and white photograph transposed over a 16th century map of a town in Spain. Reynolds-Kaye traveled to the town on the map to gather more information, but she found residents did not have a significant understanding of their own history.

“Scholars at a university knew more about the town’s history than the citizens living there,” she said. “This led me to question the ethical responsibility of the artist and the art historian to the source.”

Reynolds-Kaye has since worked to return a copy of the map to the town and educate the residents about the history associated with it.

According to panelist Suzanne Hudson, an assistant professor of art history at USC, one of the biggest challenges in analyzing art with global elements was “to understand the culture in which [the art] was produced.”

Hudson’s presentation highlighted issues of feminism within several contemporary works by female artists.

Ana Paulina Lee, a doctoral candidate in USC’s department of comparative literature, discussed how the appropriation of traditional images in contemporary art functioned and whether the artist further perpetuates the original meaning of the image by including it in their own work.

The conversation directly related to art displayed in the Fisher Museum’s current exhibition, A Complex Weave: Women and Identity in Contemporary Art. The exhibition, which has been featured at the museum since Sept. 5, explores the complex question of identity reflected in the work of contemporary women artists.

The exhibition features 16 artists and includes several mediums such as photography, video, sculpture and printmaking.

Nickolas Alarcon, a junior majoring in psychology and critical studies, said the event shed light on many of the pieces he has seen displayed in Fisher Museum this semester.

“I’ve been [to the Fisher Museum] a few times before and never really understood the art, so it was nice to hear a new perspective about the pieces from experts,” Alarcon said. “[Contemporary art] is something I don’t usually pay attention to, but it was really nice to hear what these graduate students are doing with studies in art.”