Art show leaves students with a mouth full of emotions

Feb 16, 2018

The normally bright lights at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus gallery were dimmed on February 15 so students and visitors could watch videos of artists eating everything from coffee to roses.

It was part of Mouthfeel, the title of an exhibition from a curator in Australia hosted at the gallery. It includes five pieces of video artwork focused on one part of the human body: the mouth.

The goal of the show is to “stimulate an synaesthetic response in the viewer through the observation of these films,” according to a paper handed out to viewers.

The exhibition comes from six artist in Australia who wanted to explore the sense of taste. Each video is unique in that it focuses on either a certain way of eating or of people eating items not commonly eaten.

Lick, one of the pieces included in the show, showed a girl eating and licking a pane of sugar glass with an up-close focus on how her mouth moves while licking and eating the glass. The video ran for nearly 17 minutes.

One art student noted it as her favorite video.

“It’s really interesting even though it makes you kind of uncomfortable, but I know that’s the point of watching it,” Elizabeth Dullea said. “I think it’s really interesting, I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Shannon McKay was fond of Martynka Wawrzyniak’s video, which showed a person covered in chocolate.

“The chocolate one kind of reminds me of a horror movie, like where the blood is the chocolate,” Shannon McKay said. “I think it’s suppose to make you slightly uncomfortable, but really intrigued and you can’t help but watch.”

Other pieces included Nina Ross’ The Foreignness of Language, which depicts talking while eating paper and looking somber. Hanna Raisin’s video, titled Rose Garden,, featured her eating a bouquet of roses and at one point spitting them out, then continuing to eat them again.

The other piece included husband and wife duo Hillerbrand and Magsamen blowing on a mixture of coffee and milk.

Faculty member Jason Loete said the pieces were intriguing and it pulled him in.

"There's something interesting about watching things we don't see on ourselves," Loete said. "We never get to watch ourselves chew. We never get to watch ourselves lick. We never get to watch ourselves suck."

Ellen Mueller helped bring the exhibition to the college as a way to introduce students to video art, which will be a class at the college in the fall. The entire process of finding Megan Fizell, the curator of the exhibition, and getting the pieces to the college took about seven months.

Mouthfeel is on display until March 9 in the upper gallery of the Center for Visual and Performing Arts at the university's main campus.