Your dorm room wall: the spot on which you can tell the entire universe just what you’re ABOUT without uttering a single word. There are as many ways to go about this as there are people, as no two dorm walls look exactly the same. Even the basic building blocks of the exercise (that poster from your favorite movie or TV show plus those Polaroids of your friends minus that fire-hazard tapestry) are individualized through the prism of our own unique experiences. Her Breaking Bad poster was picked for a different reason than his Mad Men poster, even if they both just remind us of the days AMC had non-zombie shows worth watching.
For artsy pricks like me who put a print of a famous painting up, it’s as much about personal motive as the aesthetic of the painting itself. Of course, when you see Klimt’s The Kiss on someone’s wall, your first reaction is either an appreciative nod to their good taste or a cynical shake of the head at such a blatant display of Culturedness. But someone doesn’t turn their dorm into the MoMA solely to show off how cultured they are — though it doesn’t hurt. Dorm-room museum curation comes from a deliberate attempt at self-expression by a college kid’s raging id, albeit through images and connotations more abstract than the ol’ Blutarsky above the bed. Here are some examples of what famous painting you chose to plaster over the cracks in your wall and what it says about you:
YOU CHOSE: Jasper Johns’ Three Flags
WHAT IT SAYS: You are the quintessential college student on a budget. Sure, you technically only need one American flag, but three-for-one is such a steal, and who are you to deny it? Those modern artists weren’t all raking in the dough in their primes. They understood the struggle. There’s a reason Johns debuted Flag in 1954, took a step back, and decided it was two flags too few. It’s the same reason your laptop of choice is still the Acer Perspire you’ve had since sophomore year.
In 2007, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. established The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program in order to celebrate the foundation’s 20th anniversary. The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program donated approximately 28,500 of Warhol’s original photographs to more than 180 American college and university museums and galleries. The program selected the RISD Museum as a beneficiary of the program, and the invaluable gift of about 150 photographic works is on display in full at the museum now for this season’s blockbuster exhibition, Andy Warhol’s Photographs.
The show can be viewed in conjunction with the Warhol print Race Riot in the permanent collection gallery, and a nearby, complementary exhibition of Warhol’s screen tests (silent, slo-mo four minute film portraits of Warhol’s celebrity social circle, including Edie Sedgwick, Lou Reed, Susan Sontag, Bob Dylan, etc). The curators have transformed the RISD Museum into a Warholian wonderland.
Scenario: You find yourself at a house party, and your intrigue is piqued by an unfamiliar collegian across the room, wearing a paint-splattered t-shirt emblazoned with the RISD seal. It’s a classic conundrum: two kids from the opposite sides of town, searching for some common ground. You could initiate conversation with age-old ice breakers—”are your calves so defined from walking up the Hill every day?” or, “is it true that you have 8-hour-long studio classes?!” But why not distinguish yourself as the burgeoning free-thinker you are, and discuss the many artists who walked these streets before you did? Maybe you won’t run into any new RISD kids this semester (they won’t be seeing much daylight as they prepare for their impending final critiques), but why not go home for break and impress your mom with these fun facts about artistic beginnings on College Hill? After all, you live in Providence, the self-proclaimed creative capital of the US, and college has transformed you into a learned sophisticate!
Here is your cheat sheet of some eccentric and accomplished artists who have graced the College Hill grounds currently beneath your feet, after the jump: