Conor Ward is a fourth-year student participating in the Dual Degree program at Tufts and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Conor is from San Francisco, and joined the brotherhood in the Spring of 2013. He has served on the fraternity’s executive board twice, both times as the Vice President of Brotherhood Development.
I sat down with Conor to discuss his art installation “Dangerous Knowledge”, which is on display at the Tisch Library until the end of February.
LM : What would you say are some of your artistic influences?
CW: Well, although I have been raised in an individualistic society, I subscribe to the notion that all people are the sum of their collective experiences. And, therefore, as both a person and especially as an artist, I believe that everything influences me and my artistic process in one way or another. For instance, even though I don’t perform music, I am inspired by hip-hop music. Let’s say I’m listening to hip-hop as I’m creating art – there’s no doubt in my mind that doing so would result in the music informing my art.
LM: And what about for “Dangerous Knowledge”, specifically?
CW: In crafting this installation, I was particularly inspired by a California-based art movement of the 60s and 70s known as the Light and Space Movement. It was an offshoot of minimalism and was characterized by artists like James Turrell who were experimenting with light and space in stunning ways. The movement was about creating profound environmental experiences; experiences that would encourage viewers to meditate on the psychological and perceptual experience of art.
LM: That art was focused on experience. Is that also the focus of your work?
CW: Yes, my goal was to create a space and an experience that would challenge the dominant experience in Tisch Library. For the most part, Tisch is a stressful place on campus. Perhaps the most stressful place on campus. I’m hoping that my installation will serve as a peaceful, meditative, and therapeutic refuge within Tisch. The mental health of the Tufts student is constantly bombarded and I think we need more spaces on campus devoted to healing.
LM: Can you speak to the forms of the light sculptures?
CW: I feel as though I am in a transitional phase as an artist. In every show I’ve participated in prior to this, I’ve showcased ceramic sculpture. There’s none of that in this installation. These wooden and paper light boxes reflect my ongoing transition towards increasingly functional artwork as well as the merging of my interests, of engineering psychology and fine art. In simpler terms, this exhibition gave me the opportunity to build nice looking things with a function.
LM: After “Dangerous Knowledge”, do you have any other projects on the horizon?
CW: After completing this difficult installation, I plan on grabbing a six-pack. No, in actuality, I will be participating in another art show at the end of this semester as part of an SMFA class I am currently taking. Essentially my classmates and I constitute an artist collective, and over the course of the semester we plan, market, and produce work for a final exhibition.
LM: I can speak on behalf of all of Pi Rho Omega when I say we are looking forward to that one, too. Thanks, Conor.