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Wexner Center for the Arts highlights diverse art forms to ring in 25 years

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Hassan Hajjaj, a Moroccan-born artist who works in photography, performance and fashion, will have his work (pictured above) featured as part of the Wexner Center for the Arts’ spring exhibits. His series of performances is set to open on Feb. 7. Courtesy of the Wexner Center for the Arts

Hassan Hajjaj, a Moroccan-born artist who works in photography, performance and fashion, will have his work (pictured above) featured as part of the Wexner Center for the Arts’ spring exhibits. His series of performances is set to open on Feb. 7.
Courtesy of the Wexner Center for the Arts

Audiences will celebrate color, culture, history and music with a combination of innovative exhibitions and long-standing favorites at the Wexner Center for the Arts beginning in February.

Erik Pepple, spokesman for the Wexner Center, said the upcoming features are a continuation of the building’s mission to inspire thought-provoking discussion about art and pop culture.

“Our goal is to give people something to talk about,” Pepple said. “Curators are always looking for ways to push the envelope and expand artistic boundaries in a different way.”

The Wexner Center will close out the month of January with special events like Richard Maxwell and New York City Players’ “Isolde” theater performance on Saturday. The Wexner Center will also host John Mellencamp and Carlene Carter as part of the duo’s Plain Spoken tour on Jan. 30 in an event sponsored by an outside company. 

The Wexner Center is also set to introduce two new galleries on Feb. 7: “Fiber: Sculpture 1960—Present” and “Hassan Hajjaj: My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1.”

“This show is really the first one of its kind to look at fiber as a sculpture material. This is the first time it’s coming to the Midwest as well,” Pepple said of “Fiber: Sculptures 1960—Present.”

Pepple describes the gallery as “visually vibrant with lots of eye-popping colors,” with works that range from intricate pieces to massive sculptures that fill the entire room.

Moroccan-born artist, fashion designer and photographer Hassan Hajjaj, widely known as “Morocco’s Andy Warhol”, is set to have a series of performances featuring the artist’s favorite musicians dressed in clothing designed by Hajjaj himself.

“One of the things we like to do is shine a light on parts of contemporary history that hasn’t gotten as much attention as they should have, or could have,” Pepple said of the fiber and Hajjaj exhibitions.

A major event for the film and video department of the Wexner Center is the upcoming “Cinema Revival: A Festival of Film Restoration.” The five-day feature will screen recently restored films from the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks, while taking audiences through a celebration of film history and discussion focusing on preservation and restoration challenges in the industry.

Director of Film and Video at the Wexner Center Dave Filipi said this event will be a milestone for the Wexner Center.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever done something like this,” Filipi said. “We’ve shown restorations and brought new films to the center, but we have never packaged it together where it’s concentrated into a festival setting.”

The Wexner Center plans to show newly restored films throughout the week and hold discussions with three film and video experts, including film animator and painter Suzan Pitt. Pitt, famous for her stop-motion film, “Asparagus,” will have several films screened.

“What’s different about this is that we’re bringing in people who are experts in this field,” Filipi said. “People will enjoy hearing experts talk about the new digital tools that are being used to move the field along.”

Multimedia enthusiasts can also look forward to the return of Banff Mountain Film Festival, which is slated to take place on March 31 and April 1. The two-day experience showcases raw and edited footage of outdoor adventures, running the gamut from extreme sports to contemplative landscape art.

“Ultimately we just want people to come in and experience what we have,” Pepple said. “One thing people can expect is the unexpected.”

Stephanie Alonso, a fourth-year in agricultural communications, had a similar input, describing the Wexner Center as a “hidden gem” of OSU.

“Nothing here is usual,” Alonso said. “Even the building itself has a story.”

Alonso has worked at the Wexner Center since September and is excited for the new exhibits to coming this semester.

Margaret Heyward, a fourth-year in communication working alongside Alonso, agreed with her co-worker.

“I always hear people leaving here in awe or saying something like, ‘Wow, that was so cool,’” Heyward said.

These are the types of reactions Pepple said he wants to continue to see with the new displays.

“It’s our 25th anniversary,” Peeple said of the Wexner Center. “At a moment like this, it’s a time to kind of look back and look forward to more of what we can do, and hopefully give them an unforgettable experience with it.”

The winter exhibitions preview will be held Feb. 6 in the Wexner Center, where guests can be the first to view the Hajjaj and fiber exhibitions. A detailed list of upcoming events and more information can be found by visiting the Wexner Center website.

“Ultimately we just want people to come in and experience what we have,” Pepple said. “One thing people can expect is the unexpected.”

Clarification: Jan. 20

A prior version of this article implied that the Wexner Center for the Arts is set to host and sponsor John Mellencamp and Carlene Carter’s performance on Jan. 30. In fact, an outside company is sponsoring the performance, while the Wexner Center for the Arts will host the performance.

Correction: Jan. 30

Carlene Carter’s name was misspelled in an earlier online version of this article. 

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