Multimedia Works Are Taking the Art World By Storm

A desktop computer, a laptop, a camera, and some printed pictures on a desk.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Whether it’s combining sculpture and architecture, video and fabrics, or photography and paper, the art world is no stranger to multimedia artists these days. Pieces in modern exhibits are often full-on visual and auditory experiences rather than just opportunities to meander through a hall and looking at paintings on a wall. Whether it’s art students or professional artists, the realm of multimedia artwork continues to expand.

In PNCA’s recent MFA exhibit, several students, including Angélica Maria Millán Lazon and Aruni Dharmakirthi, produced projects that incorporated several different mediums. Lazon’s Engendradxs used textiles, photography, and film to tell a story about Lazon’s female family members and their immigrant experiences. Dharmakirthi’s Fissures of the In-Between also focused on fabrics, but with the uncomfortable and thought-provoking addition of grainy photographs and drawings of abstract shapes and smiling, disembodied heads.

The multimedia trend continues in the work of many more experienced artists, too.

Dustin Yellin, for example, combines paper sculpture and painting in his own work, as well as supporting the work of other developing artists with his Pioneer Works, a 24,000-square-foot art and science lab in Brooklyn.

And Bard College graduate Xaviera Simmons has shown her multimedia art (combining painting, photography, film, and sculpture) across the world, including in New York City, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Miami. Her portrait of Michelle Obama currently resides in the National Portrait Museum—the first painting of a First Lady to have that honor.

Meanwhile, on the face of it, Teresita Fernández is a sculptor. However, her sculptural environments include elements of architecture and optical effects involving color and light. Because of their size, visitors can actually walk through them for an interactive experience. For example, her Fata Morgana was an outdoor experience exhibited in New York’s Madison Square Garden in 2015. A canopy of reflective golden “trees” hovered over the garden walkways, allowing visitors to walk right under it.

The classic artistic disciplines will never go out of style, of course. But it’s also true that many new forms are coming onto the scene, often in multimedia presentations that combine various mediums.

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