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The 2020 Art History Curatorial Project

The 2020 Art History majors' student-curated exhibition, SCALES OF CHAOS - The Dance of Art and Contemporary Science, opened to W&M Faculty, staff and students on September 23rd at the Muscarelle Museum of Art, who can visit the gallery with their ID Wednesday-Sunday, 12-4pm. Others please enjoy the exhibition virtually. {{youtube:medium:right|O2zoro6JylM, SCALES OF CHAOS - The Dance of Art and Contemporary Science}}

SCALES OF CHAOS is curated by Alejandro Algarra Gonzalez, Elizabeth Dowker, Caroline Katz, Elizabeth King, Laura Yuhua Luo, Charlie Parsons, Eleanor Pschirrer-West, Kristin Rheins, Yinuo Zhang, and Yilun Zhuang — art history majors in The Curatorial Project (ARTH 331) taught by Professor Xin Conan-Wu in Spring 2020. This year’s topic responses to the COLL 300 theme, “SCALE”. By connecting art with cutting-edge science, our majors have been extremely creative in their curation. The exhibition approaches the theme of “scale” from the unconventional perspective of Chaos Theory, presenting new ways of reading art, and a selection of abstract and figurative works of art that embody sensible intuitions of complexity.

Art and science explore one and the same world, each with its own tools and lens, and at its own pace. As this exhibition shows, art has either been responsive, or intuitive, in its dance with science. Different from our familiar notions, Chaos Theory introduces a new kind of scale that is based on change and dynamism in nature. According to Chaos Theory, a small impact on a complex dynamic system can cause either orderly or disorderly behaviors and results, depending on the level of complexity. This has ushered in novel models of perceiving and engaging with contemporary issues such as the environment and climate change. The exhibition is organized in two parts. Part I Art & Chaos Theory includes two sections: “Order & Chaos” and “Revealing Emergence”; Part II Scales of Perception & Imagination includes three sections: “Fractal Perception,” “Unfolding Nuance” and “Irony in Art”.

This project came to fruition amid the unprecedented chaos of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak worldwide. The class accomplished all curatorial tasks before the installation, the production of the exhibition catalogue and an online 3-D virtual exhibition of SCALES OF CHAOS in the Sheridan Gallery, in spring 2020. The physical installation took place in fall 2020, when the university reopened, and the exhibition was moved to three adjacent galleries in a different location and layout.

Congratulations to our majors on an extraordinary journey through the SCALES OF CHAOS.