By Staff Writer Sawyer Pollitt
This past Thursday, many walking through campus may have noticed a giant beach ball tethered to the Claire T. Carney Library.
It goes without saying that beach balls are a rare sight at UMass Dartmouth, let alone giant ones, and many were asking questions about this huge inflatable toy.
Negar Farajiani is an Iranian artist who specializes in social practice and curation. On February 7, Farajiani’s piece of interactive art ‘Made in China’ made it’s way to UMass Dartmouth, but not after making many other stops around the world. Beginning in Yazd Iran, Farajiani’s birthplace, it made it’s way to the country of Georgia, the UAE, and several cities in the United States and Canada.
The country hopping piece of art, ‘Made in China,’ has specific goals to be accomplished.
From an interview with Farajiani, “the project addresses significant issues concerning the role of people in forming their living environment, the nature of their approach to objects, and the formation of social order in the public sphere.”
Oftentimes art is meant to be observed from afar and admired from behind glass.
However, Farajiani encourages the audience to interact with the ball of unusual size in an organic fashion.
She observes the way that people of different cultures and backgrounds engage with the beach ball in different contexts and settings. In this respect, the population of UMass Dartmouth did not disappoint.
Throughout the time that ‘Made in China’ was installed on campus, many students of many different backgrounds were able to participate in the work.
Eric Sousa, a senior biology major, was seen hugging the ball while it was tethered outside of the library. Jordan Vongsithi, senior graphic design major, helped to deflate the ball at the end of the performance.
Several unidentified UMassD students were even spotted flying their drone above an entire crowd of people playing with the ball near the campanile.
As interesting as this project is, one may wonder how it made it’s way to Dartmouth of all places. That would be the doing of Pamela Karimi, professor of art education and art history in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
She was responsible, with a grant from the provost, for bringing Negar Farajiani to campus along with her unique brand of art.
The presence of a recognized artist was certainly utilized by Karimi. Several of her classes, including ‘The history of Islamic Art’ were able to listen to an engaging lecture by Farajiani regarding the motivations behind her art, the previous work she was involved in, and projects she is currently pursuing.
Students also had the opportunity to ask questions and engage with Farajiani in a one-on-one setting. An opportunity that many do not get to have when guest speakers come to UMass Dartmouth.
At the end of the day, ‘Made in China’ was on UMassD soil for only a few hours, but it seems like its effects may be lasting.
One of Farajiani’s major points was interaction with children, and it is clear that of those who played with the ball, their inner child was released that day.
Groups of running, jumping, and laughing college students are a rare sight when in an environment where the pressure of exams and deadlines are constant sources of stress.
Negar Farajiani’s ‘Made in China’ sparked joy. A giant colorful beach ball juxtaposed against the grey concrete and grey skies of UMass Dartmouth is a strange sight. However it is a welcome sight that breaks up the monotony of every day life as a college student.
Hopefully, the success of ‘Made in China’ allows for more
interactive and projects like this one to make their way to campus.