By Nate Neinaber in A&E
The Archer Gallery is dark, but the walls are bright.
Two projectors splash a landscape onto the wall while students scurry in and out of the light, feverishly scratching at the image with charcoal.
A man in black watches closely as the work comes together. This is his picture starting to come to life.
Seattle-based photographer and videographer Rodrigo Valenzuela is collaborating with Clark students to create “Help Wanted,” a new exhibit in Archer Gallery that features a combination of photography, video work and a large-scale, charcoal landscape drawn by students.
The exhibit, which opened April 8, will run until May 3. A reception takes place April 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. Immediately following, Valenzuela will give an artist’s talk from 7 to 8 p.m.
“His work is very cinema-graphic,” gallery director Carson Legree said. “There’s a kind of big screen movie feel about it that I just absolutely love.”
The exhibit focuses on the theme of labor. Valenzuela said he wants people to understand that doing anything requires work, even if that work amounts to nothing.
Sticking to that theme, Legree said the artist is recording students who talk about their awful job experiences. He plans to use them to create a piece of art.
Legree said that Valenzuela was the first to suggest that the exhibit be a collaboration with the students.
Valenzuela said he wanted to involve students in making this art so he could spend more time with Clark students to understand them better.
He said he chose Clark for the exhibit because it gives off a different vibe, and because community college students have more life experience than students he is used to teaching.
“At Clark, students are probably more proactive about their educations because of their various economic situations,” Valenzuela said.
Valenzuela is using a digital composition of photos he took at Joshua Tree National Park in California as the collaboration piece students are sketching with charcoal.
Art 115 student Austin Rumgay said he has worked with charcoal before, but never on this scale or magnitude.
Classes are working hard to complete the collaboration project over the coming week.
Legree said she wasn’t sure what Valenzuela meant when he said he wanted students to draw on the wall.
“I’m not positive he did either,” she said
The community can watch the work progress in the gallery Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.