Opening Reception is Wednesday, Feb. 12 from 4-6. The exhibition runs Feb. 12 – March 5, 2014 and is located in the Exhibition Area of the Johnson Building at Cleveland State Community College.
Fermin “Fefo” Jimenez is a former Cleveland State art student who has recently spent eight months on the road, calling himself “houseless” but not homeless. From hitchhiking to hopping freight (riding trains) to living on the streets, Jimenez was asked about assembling items from this experience to present as a work of art. This exhibition documents his experience on the road. “I’m sharing a lot of very private memories. It feels odd to be displayed; I never intended for these experiences to be displayed as art. What I’ve been working on for the past two years is understanding this need to be constantly evolving, searching for a life that is not confined by social regulations. Being on the road makes you understand your needs. You realize how much you don’t need stuff but how much you need other people. In this life, to be without a plan is considered to be a failure. I needed time to think and a community that offered a different type of education. Traveling provided these new experiences. I enjoy being lost.”
At its core, art is about experience. Art attempts to take experiences from life and pair these events down into an essence, a simulacrum. The struggle of the artist is to present the viewer with an engaging exploration. The explorer / the artist has a commitment to the viewer to communicate, be it through an emotion, a physical reaction, a conversation or through an interaction amongst peers – art itself is a language.
Art has typically been defined through the traditional and accepted branches of creative activity; painting, sculpture, music, literature or dance. If art is simply an experience communicated through a different form of language, could life itself not be considered the ultimate form of creation? Entirely too often we misjudge the beauties and wonders of everyday life as mundane, something to be dismissed and forgotten while we rapidly search for our next distraction.
Jimenez has embraced a life on the road and the experiences that he finds there as a work of art on its own. When I first discussed this show with Fefo, I was at a loss for what I should be feeling or how I should comment and react to his ‘artwork’. I realized very quickly that I needed to come to terms with my own ideas of what can and cannot be defined as art. Can only the Last Supper by da Vinci take the title of masterpiece or does a meeting with strangers warrant the same respect?
Jimenez has daringly ventured into the cold, cruel world to interact with complete strangers and suggest they make an individual mark on his life. He abandoned the social constraints we force onto each other in order to embrace true human nature, interaction, and experience. These interactions have been brought back to us and displayed beautifully – the same way Fefo cherishes his memories and experiences from his journey.
“This is what it means to be an adventurer in our day: to give up creature comforts of the mind, to realize the possibilities of imagination. Because everything around us says no you cannot do this, you cannot live without that, nothing is useful unless it’s in service to money, to gain, to stability. The adventurer gives in to tides of chaos, trusts the world to support her – and in doing so turns her back on the fear and obedience she has been taught. She rejects the indoctrination of impossibility.” -Hib Chickena
Assistant Professor of Art