“What would happen if we were to introduce art into a space where it wouldn’t normally be found?”
This is the question fourth year Jake Cushnir attempted to answer on a two-week road trip through California with his friend from high school, Gabe Kittle-Cervine, a resident and poet of Santa Cruz, CA. Two years later, he created a mixed media installation at the Kamill Gallery, which is an in-depth look at the events of their road trip and ties them to the questions that they’ve asked themselves, but were unable to answer.
I remember when Jake first told me about this endeavor, back when we were both in our second year of college. We were sitting in the Old Student Center, working on our respective video projects, chatting away the time like students usually do. Jake showed me a short film he made about Gabe’s work in the subway stations of Boston, where Gabe would sit for hours writing on a typewriter and selling poetry to passers-by.
They had started fundraising for a larger version of the project that would take them all over the state, talking to other buskers, who showcased their art on street corners. At the time, they had little idea that this project would eventually develop into a gallery installation. Two years passed and they still had no idea what to do with all the footage and poetry that they had curated during that trip. That’s what inspired them to turn their experiences during their journey into an exhibition here at UC San Diego.
“We realized that we weren’t sure how to put everything we’d experienced into one cohesive piece,” Jake told me, as we sat in the close-to-completion gallery.
Jake’s tour of the gallery acted as a timeline of sorts –you follow the path that these two artists have created and you join them on their journey. “Not many people have two weeks of themselves just living documented to revisit,” said Gabe as he showed me some of his poetry. “We can look at this footage and see who we used to be, and see how much we’ve changed.”
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jake for the last four years here at UC San Diego and I will be the first to vouch for his undeniable artistic ability. His unquenchable thirst to create, and his skillful hands working toward everything he puts his mind to, not only qualify him as a talented artist, but allow him to produce gorgeous work time and again.
As I walked through the space, I was in awe at how visceral their work was. The typewritten poetry that painted the walls left me deeply in existential thought, while the film stills show the humanity of the humble artists that exhibit themselves everyday. You see Gabe sitting on park benches, on mountaintops, with other buskers, and you feel like you’re very much a part of their personal journey. You feel the beating hearts of the people depicted on the walls and the raw and honest nature of the experience that they had. Through this, you completely understand why they’ve chosen to present it like this.
They entitled the gallery Traveling in Circles because of the nature of their work. The questions they asked people during their trip, they ended up asking themselves. The gallery is a way for their work to “come full circle” for the two guys–they are finally getting to come back to the campus to display the work they went so far to gather. It’s a beautiful experience to be allowed to witness and every viewer will feel differently when they leave the space. Thinking about your own life, I hope that you exit this gallery with a better sense of self and direction. Hopefully, Jake and Gabe will too.
“Travelling in Circles” will be in the Kamill Gallery from April 18 – 22, open from 12 – 5pm daily. To see more work by UCSD Structural Engineering/Vis Arts Undergrad, Jake Cushnir, visit his website: www.jakecushnir.com. To learn more about Gabe Kittle, the fantastic poet based in Santa Cruz, go to his Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/poetgabekittle/