For the next few weeks, West Chester University’s E.O. Bull Center will host the highly notarized “Lost and Found” exhibition, a collective showcase of found and recycled items used to create an extensive gallery of artistic works. The display has been open for public view, free of charge, since October 27 and will continue to be until December 12. The collection is a captivating display of seemingly useless items that have been brought together to create contemporary art. I had the opportunity to visit the showcase and was thoroughly impressed with the quality of work along with the thought provoking concepts behind each piece.
Upon entering the gallery, the natural complexity that art brings forth may be overwhelming, but the simplicity that is the overall basis behind all the pieces in the collection is quickly and pleasantly calming. It felt like I had walked into a very elaborate craft show. A lot of the items, in addition to being art, were actually functioning and practical household items. Such items included a lamp that was made from a collection of cigar boxes or old tattered purses and luggage that have been painted and restored. The vast selection of pieces are all equally impressive and each have unique reasoning behind them. Of the 40 artists that compose The Philadelphia Dumpster Divers, there are close to one hundred of their pieces in the gallery. Some are big and some are small and some evoke more emotion than others, but overall they are all mind-blowing and completely constructed from what we may commonly call trash.
After viewing the gallery, I made an effort to sit down and talk with the curator of the exhibition, John Baker, who is also the Art Department’s Chairman and professor and advisor to Art Studies students. He has been planning and preparing for this exhibition to come to West Chester University for two years now. In 2012, as Baker began centering in on the focus of this year’s curriculum, he also met some of the artist’s involved with the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers. It was just perfect timing that their sculptures and works coincided well with what he wanted out of the exhibitions this year and their desire to be featured on West Chester’s campus made the possibility all the more promising.
All of the works are original pieces and have never been featured anywhere other than West Chester University’s E.O. Bull Center and after the exhibition closes its doors on December 12, the pieces will have all been sold or returned back to their original studios. The Dumpster Divers are always working on pieces made from scraps and found materials so they have more art to showcase in the future. It was imperative to them that they display all original pieces in this showcase mainly due to the nature of the gallery. The relatively new E.O. Bull Center is a highly sought after gallery among local professional artists. The natural lighting, high ceiling, and quaint but large space make it an ideal setting to showcase art.
Each time I visit the exhibition, I find students enjoying this free opportunity to view contemporary art which is rare in itself. Do not miss this chance to catch some of the area’s most talented artists, The Philadelphia Dumpster Divers and their all original “Lost and Found” exhibition at the E.O. Bull Center located on the corner of High St where Rosedale intersects. Like all exhibits at the Center, this showcase is free to West Chester University students as well as the general public between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Shawn Trawick is a student at West Chester. He can be reached at ST819517@wcupa.edu.