Touchy/Feely at Hillsborough Community College’s Gallery 221 in Tampa has a lot of great interactive (and non-interactive work) on view. The three artists in the exhibition- Jessica Caldas, Saumitra Chandratreya, and Emiliano Settecasi– have contributed work that explores important themes while also adding an element of fun by allowing the viewer to become actively involved in the show.
The Curatorial Statement by Alyssa Miller-
Art touches you, and sometimes you get to touch it back. Challenging conventional gallery manners, Touchy/Feely encourages visitors to assume the role of participant by handling and manipulating several of the works on view. Contemporary fiber artists disrupt the long-held distinction between art and craft, blending the conceptual with the experiential in a highly tactile medium. In Touchy/Feely, artists Jessica Caldas, Saumitra Chandratreya, and Emiliano Settecasi go one step further in collapsing the space between artist and viewer, exploring themes of labor, motherhood, relationships, conscious choice, and joy through fiber art that both holds and is held.
So much of art and history is exhibited at a distance, close enough to see but never touch. Whereas engaging with the nature of textiles can be familiar, exciting, and sensational. Combinations of art and cloth have a long and fraught history within contemporary art, such as the novelty of interactive exhibitions that can become a commodity in contemporary museums. Ogled and beaten become the play spaces, tarnished and brassy the sculptures, worn and bruised the forms become overtime through the nature of interaction. Touchy/Feely aims to be a space in between museum rules and contemporary art photo-ops. Here, artists display a mix of interactive and static artwork that exemplifies intense feeling, encouraging the viewer to make decisions in real time, and submerge themselves in something they did not expect.
Ultimately, this exhibition satisfies my urge to explore, manipulate, caress, and experience art in a way not many individuals are able to do. In working behind the scenes, I am allowed to safely satisfy my interest in exploration. I will forever be grateful to the HCC Art Galleries team for their dedication to students, staff, and artists for this exhibition and the work they do year-round. I hope that visitors come away from this exhibition with a new experience, perspective, feeling, or sensation.
This exhibition closes on 10/12/23.