Northwestern Art Review features video art by student artists

The poster for “The Screen Time: Video Art Show.” The event will take place on Feb. 25 in Kresge.

Source: Kelsey Malone

The poster for “The Screen Time: Video Art Show.” The event will take place on Feb. 25 in Kresge.

Aaron Wang, Reporter

Growing up as an Olympic swimmer for Guatemala, Communication senior Valerie Gruest Slowing said she felt like the public only saw her through the lens of medals, records and achievements. In her conceptual film, “Behind the Smiles,” Slowing challenges the narrative of a swimming prodigy, telling a hidden history of trauma and physical abuse.

“I never had the chance to have a way to let it all out,” Slowing said. “Art for me has been the way to channel everything that happened in my life. It was a way that I was able to focus all my energy on telling a powerful message to the world.”

Slowing’s film will be screened Feb. 25 at “The Screen Time: Video Art Show” along with the work of four additional student artists in Kresge Centennial Hall. Presented by Northwestern Art Review, the event will be accompanied by live music, snacks and drinks.

Communication senior Kelsey Malone, president of Northwestern Art Review, said this is the first time NAR has organized a video art show. She started developing the show after a friend of hers approached her with an installation idea. Recognizing the lack of a platform for student-made video art on campus, Slowing said she hopes the event can promote practicing artists on campus.

“Northwestern gives a lot of opportunity to theatre, dance and vocal, but when it comes to visual art forms, it’s just totally swept under the rug,” Malone said. “I hope that it encourages people to produce and be more creative in the visual arts. ”

Slowing said “Behind the Smiles” echoes her own life story. During the film, the screen is split into three sections that present a variety of swimming-related shots, symbolizing her social perception in the public eye. In addition, the audio, which consists of five languages that had unique meanings to her upbringing, narrates her experience of physical abuse and trauma.

When Slowing came to Northwestern, she wasn’t able to reveal her experience with physical abuse to the public. She said she had to “put up a brave face” to maintain the image in the public eye. After confronting her abuser during a trial in Guatemala and retiring from swimming last year, Slowing said she was empowered to tell her story.

“Sharing (the film) at this show is definitely another kind of milestone,” Slowing said. “I couldn’t say anything when it happened, but I feel like now I’m in a place where I feel empowered. I’m not gonna keep quiet. This is my story, and this is my truth.”

Communication sophomore Shelby Schultz will also present an experimental film made in her senior year of high school during the event. A short film under two minutes, her work explores the human senses through the manipulation of color, sound and image on the screen, including techniques like voiceover and desaturation of color, Schultz said.

Schultz said the film was inspired by her struggles and feelings of being overwhelmed during her senior year of high school. Stressed out under the pressure to figure out her life goal, Schultz said she wanted to express her impulse to shut everything out by telling her story through film.

“I talk about my feelings very openly, but actually getting to express (them) through film feels like a lot more,” Schultz said. “There isn’t really a boundary for what I can say and share, and film especially can express things that I can’t verbally express.”

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