This past Thursday was a lively evening for FGCU with the opening of the Blind Date exhibition at the Wasmer Art Gallery.
The event featured a collaboration of two artists—Neil Bender and Jen Ray—who did a meet-and-greet with attendees. Refreshments were served while a live jazz performance by the FGCU Jazz Combo played. The name of the exhibition playfully ﬁts as this was also the ﬁrst time Bender and Ray collaborated and met in person.
Unlike the reputation of blind dates, which can become awkward and have lack of compatibility, the debut of the exhibition was a success. During the event, Bender and Ray held an interactive discussion about the inspirations for their work, their backgrounds and any other questions attendees had.
Both Bender and Ray’s unique styles seemed to intermix remarkably well with each other: Their artwork that was combined to create the exhibition, each elicited themes of power, conﬁdence, self-expression and symbolism in the human existence. The exhibit included a wall of shelves decorated with memorabilia, a recording of a playlist joint-selected by both artists and a short ﬁlm inspired by Ray’s work.
“Jen’s style is more about feminism and ‘taking back the night’ sort of thing,” Anica Sturdivant, the gallery coordinator said. “And Neil just examines the boundaries and questions about gender roles; why we make certain assumptions about gender roles and maybe some of those things are more ﬂuid than we think they are.” Sturdivant described the artists presence at the opening as being unique and very fun.
For those who missed the opening but want to view the artwork alone, there’s still much to see, said Sturdivant. Students have the opportunity to not only view art but to engage with it: headphones are available to listen to videos associated with Ray’s work and a recording of the FGCU Jazz Combo spins on a record player. There is candy for the taking while visitors check out the books left by the artists.