Drawing the Line: Artist Andrew Douglas Campbell speaks on behalf of his controversial artwork
A center table in the upper section of North Santiam hall lined with grapes, hummus, cheese, crackers, and beverages stood untouched while nearly 40 students and faculty awaited anxiously for artist Andrew Douglass Campbell to begin his reception on Oct. 19.
The 10 piece collection of thrifted fabric and thread includes a three piece series titled “…And Then What Could Happen Bent to What Will Happen…,” which has been displayed since the beginning of the term. The series has sparked some controversy not only among the LBCC campus, but throughout the town as well. The Democrat Herald published an article which shed light onto one particular patron’s negative response.
During the reception, Campbell went in depth as to why he created the three-piece series and what sparked his creativity.
“Pornography is a huge market, it is an industry unto itself that has billions of dollars in revenue passing through annually,” he said. “It is the designing commodifying of our identities and desires, so there’s this thing where it’s a market; its business and its model is to identify what you desire and commodify that, and I thought that was interesting. That there’s a lot of agency on this industry making a lot of assumptions about me as a person and about my desire.”
As a response to the porn industry and the way they market to different demographics, Campbell depicted and expressed his interpretation of this industry through his artwork.
“[I was] thinking about the porn industry as a market that I personally had not yet held with the same skeptical eye as I do a lot of other economies, and so I started to look at that and part of it is true, they have tapped into a certain desire on mine, part of it is I’m very skeptical of it,” said Campbell. “It made sense to me that I should render their material sort of inconsequential; it’s so fragile it can be blown away. It’s important but unimportant at the same time, it’s present and not present, it’s solid and transparent. That’s where I came up with these very loose airy images that are barely there but still very impactful.”
In the series, each color is made up of one continuous thread and placed between two sheets of plexiglass. The fragility of the art is a huge representation of Campbell’s take on the porn industry.
“It was all one string at one time. Part of the framing process and part of the different times that it’s been in transition [has led to] moments where the string has broken a few times,” he said. “I think that you can see that there’s even evidence that it fell off a wall at one point, but I let that crack happen and I was like, ‘I love this.’”
Campbell says the pieces are not meant to protest the porn industry in any way nor to have a direct stance for or against it. “It’s [the artwork] sort of what came out of me trying to investigate my own relationship to it,” said Campbell.
Anne Magratten, Art Faculty and Mentor of the gallery coordinators, hand-picked Campbell’s artwork to be displayed in the campus gallery.
“I have admired Andrew’s artwork for a long time. We hardly ever showcase the work of fiber artists. I knew right away that this was an opportunity to show students work that they were unlikely to see in our campus galleries,” said Magratten. “I think he has an incredible facility in command of materials to make the figures come forward the way that they do. It’s also important to me that work is shown because of the fact that there has been so much suppression of gay and queer history, so allowing that work to be in conversation with the public is important.”
Story by Samantha Guy
Photos by Angela Scott