Art for Silliness's Sake
Art for Silliness’s Sake
Schneider Hall Galleries | University of Louisville
Exhibition: June 2-August 4, 2023
Reception: Friday June 2, 5-7 PM
Summer Hours: Monday-Tuesday 10am-4:30pm; Wednesday 2:30-4:30pm; Thursday-Friday: 10am-4:30pm
Art for Silliness’s Sake defines and explores silly art through works created since 2016, featuring local artists like Elsa Oldham Hansen and EVPL. Silly art comes as a response to the social and political atmosphere of America from about 2016, in which time tragedy and trauma have been sandwiched between ridiculous, absurd, and over-the-top oddities. These moments, debated back-to-back in 24-hour news and on social media, produce an ever-mounting hopelessness and a sense of absurdity among viewers. Instead of giving into these feelings, however, some artists have responded with a defiantly anti-nihilistic attitude and an indulgence in the silly—or, in other words, with silly art.
This exhibition defines silly art as, in short, a humorous, anti-nihilistic descendent of twentieth century postmodernism. This art uses silliness, here defined as playful, lighthearted, or amusing, to elicit joy or a laugh from its viewer. Taking postmodernism as its antecedent, silly art often collapses “high” art into “low” by incorporating elements of everyday life or popular culture (particularly internet or “meme” culture) into institutionally accepted art mediums or practices. Additionally, silly art rejects the skepticism and nihilism of postmodernism. Instead, it asserts that meaninglessness is an invitation to create meaning within one’s own life that is not based in institution or higher power but in the individual. Its anti-nihilism, while still recognizing meaninglessness as a common condition of our contemporary moment, is ultimately hopeful.
Art for Silliness’s Sake, curated by Abby Howerton, is on view at the Schneider Hall Gallery from June 2nd until August 4th. An opening reception will be held on Friday, June 2nd from 5-7 pm. This event is free and open to the public, we hope you will join us!
Images: Sunday Nobody, Cheeto Sarcophagus (2022); EVPL, I Didn’t Say “Simon Says.” (2021)