Visual Arts

By Myself and With My Friends at ASU Art Museum

​Things are getting a little hairy at Tempe's ASU Art Museum, as guests and staff roam through the new video exhibition, By Myself and With My Friends.

The show features five animal-centric works from international artists, and while none of the videos have human characters, the curators say the artists' collective intent is to teach us humans a thing or two about ourselves.

Curator John Spiak says this exhibit comes from his desire to show the connection among all living things. "It's a place just to sit down and collectively think that even though we might believe the world revolves around us, we're all in this together. Even when we're alone, we're all in this together."

By Myself and With My Friends features work from Krista BirnbaumDonna ConlonRivane and Sergio NeuenschwanderConnie Samaras, and Corinna Schnitt. Each video is about 3 to 5 minutes long (the longest being Schnitt's piece, which runs more than 20 minutes).

On the screens placed throughout the exhibition, animals act on their own or interact with each other in simple settings Spiak says are meant to evoke thoughts about human nature. A small mouse struggles inside of a tea cup and curiously discovers its surroundings, and a room slowly fills with a variety of different animals -- what Spiak describes as a once calm and serene setting turning to an animal "frat party."

"In solitude at times it can be very relaxing, trying to work things out. Or it can be frustrating," Spiak says. "And in group settings we can do things we couldn't do by ourselves. We become braver to do something we probably wouldn't do alone. That includes the good and the bad."

Spiak mentions small moments of reflection, like those when a person ponders to him or herself and reaches realization, and big moments of group action, like post-championship sports riots or the current revolution transpiring in the Arab world.

Those who visit the museum Saturday, July 9, can participate in Family Fun Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Changing Hands bookstore will be hosting a pop-up bookstore booth with signings by kid literature authors. The museum also has free activities and special visits from PBS celebrities planned for kids.

By Myself and With My Friends is currently running at the ASU Art Museum and closes on August 27.

The museum is located at 10th Street and Mill Avenue in Tempe. Check out the museum's website for more information or check out the museum's blog.

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Joseph Schmidt
Contact: Joseph Schmidt