RARA brings environmental awareness with ‘Ruin & Renewal’

Greed, gluttony, oil spills and destruction. If it concerns a hot social issue, Residential Areas Real Art (RARA) will likely have an entire collection of artwork to address it. The group was founded in 2009 by two Washington University students to showcase student artwork in hopes that it would grasp the attention of the greater St. Louis community. This Saturday, Feb. 8, the art group will host its newest exhibition, “Ruin & Renewal,” at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. This all-media exhibition will feature both undergraduate and graduate work in various mediums, including sculpture, painting and video art.

RARA is part of the Art Council, a group that puts together on-campus and off-campus exhibitions featuring student artwork. Its goal is to unite the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts with all of Wash. U. as well as with the St. Louis art community as a whole, for which it typically hosts one or two off-campus shows each year.

Senior Hannah Waldman, co-chair of RARA, explained the goals of the “Ruin & Renewal” exhibition.

“The idea for ‘Ruin & Renewal’ was a very collaborative effort,” she said. “We were trying to think of what we wanted the general message of the show to be, and we felt that ‘Ruin & Renewal’ applied to the environmental issues and concerns that artists address in work.”

According to Waldman, many of the artists aim to place objects in more natural settings, using recycled materials to create their work. About 30 undergraduate and graduate students will have their work presented at the exhibition.

Artwork was chosen through a general call for admissions. Then, it went to a panel of RARA members, who created a blind slide show in which the artists remained anonymous. The panel discussed the pieces and chose submissions through a democratic process.

Waldman is excited about the show’s venue, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Students will have their work displayed alongside the museum’s permanent collection of shows.

“They have been really generous with their space,” Waldman said. “They are all about working with the St. Louis community and Wash. U.”

RARA’s website notes that the “Ruin & Renewal” theme is “even more relevant in light of glowing global concern over environmental issues.” It also goes on to say that modern artists often struggle to balance the concepts of creation and destruction in the pieces they create. “Ruin & Renewal” allows artists to have a combination of creation and destruction in their artwork—many contain recycled and re-appropriated materials as their supplies.

Beyond this, each student’s work will serve a different purpose. Some are more science-driven and focus more on environmental issues. Others deal more with public concern and aim to take more of a stance on current social issues. Yet the overall theme of opportunities for rebirth and renewal can be seen within each piece included in the exhibition.

The exhibition is for one night only, but RARA plans for there to be plenty of entertainment available for visitors. The exhibition will feature food, disc jockeys from KWUR and other Wash. U. talent groups. Buses will shuttle any students who are interested in attending from Brookings Hall to the Contemporary Art Museum starting at 7:30 p.m. and ending at 10:30 p.m.

For more information about RARA, visit its website at http://www.raraart.com/.