Artist lecture touches on unforgettable subject

By Jack Rechsteiner, managing editor

UNIVERSITY CENTER – Jacquelynn Sullivan Gould has opened two galleries at Michigan State University and has now brought her artistic talents to Delta’s Art Galleria.

Known to many as the main area of the S-Wing, Delta College’s Galleria routinely features art from many different contemporary artists. Gould’s current exhibition, titled “Unanswered,” is on display for all of November through December and was introduced with a reception that was held Nov. 28 in the main hall of the Galleria. A full room of Delta College art students and teachers gathered together to hear Gould speak about her work.

Gould thanked Delta College art professors Andrew Rieder and Ben Clore for helping her not only set up the exhibit but also helping to get Gould’s work displayed at Delta College. The trio attended graduate school together and Rieder had reached out to Gould about the opportunity to display her work at Delta College.

“This is the first time I’ve gotten to exhibit this many pieces from this work, so I’m very happy to get the chance to do it here. The setting works perfectly,” says Gould.

Gould comes from a small town less than one square mile large and is now the current director of galleries for Michigan State University’s four art galleries. Gould has also had her own artwork exhibited nationally and given art lectures nationally and internationally.

“If I walked exactly 563 steps, I would be at my grandma’s front door… My grandma shows up in my work a lot because I am pretty much her doppelgänger; we’re very similar. We have this lost and distant connection with each other,” says Gould.

When Gould went away to college, the time she had spent away from home had caused her grandmother with Alzheimer’s to forget her name. The exhibit, “Unanswered,” is an exploration of the day-to-day interactions with someone with Alzheimer’s. “Unanswered” is a combination of a year’s worth of sealed and dated envelopes on display behind glass along with acetate photographs superimposed on top of each other that look like ghostly apparitions.

“I compiled these images together because with Alzheimer’s you lose your memory going backward, so as my grandmother’s memory dissipated all the different figures in her life blurred together, so the photos are representative of merging memories,” says Gould.

Gould says that her goal was to create something that evolved out of a point of self-reference. When she started, she had no idea what the finished product would be or why she was doing it other than it felt natural. The only external information displayed on the envelopes is the date which it was opened and closed. This is meant to be a physical representation of having a conversation with someone who has Alzheimer’s. Every interaction is sealed away and put on a shelf, like an unopened envelope.

“It’s the idea of repetition and the cycle of knowing and then unknowing,” says Gould.

The art is Gould’s response to having one of her peers call her work “too depressing to look at,” so Gould used the envelopes to put that sadness out of sight. The envelopes are an unbreakable barrier that is frustrating and intangible in much of the same way that you cannot break through to someone experiencing Alzheimer’s. It is important to Gould that the viewer is unable to see anything in the envelopes at all.

“All of it ties together really well. It perfectly illustrates the point,” says Cat Millard, Delta College student.

Everyone has the chance to have their work be displayed at the annual Delta Art and Design Student Exhibition in the Galleria. Every year, dozens of students are chosen, and you can become one of them by exploring Delta’s different art class possibilities.

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