Deep Thought Thursday: Weird Exhibit Themes

Art Hilger
Art Hilger, Spirit Face. Wood. ©The Artist

Art Hilger is tired of the same ole, lame ole exhibit themes. He asks:

What was the most unique or unusual gallery show theme that you ever entered, wanted to enter, or would like to see solicited?
I'm so tired of “Black and White”, Landscapes in Red (pick a color),  Self portraits, etc. etc. etc.
Looking for something weird, like “Nude Kangaroos,” “Elephants in Pantyhose,” “Firemen in Fear,” etc.–something for which a box has not yet been made to be outside of. Something that no rules have yet been made for (like ending a sentence with a preposition).

If you haven't been lucky enough to participate in the world of weird exhibit themes, maybe you have an idea for something off the wall that you've been too shy to share. As Art demonstrated in his examples, NOTHING is off limits.
C'mon! Get weird!

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23 thoughts on “Deep Thought Thursday: Weird Exhibit Themes”

  1. Brilliant!
    I had a lot of fun organising and putting on my personal Art Gallery. I think, if you’re just gonna do it yourself, you might as well get creative! Like theming parties, theming your exhibit should be a fun, creative process that will make your gallery showing stand out against the rest.
    I’m planning a new exhibit as soon as I’ve accumulated more pieces here in the UK. I’m thinking a masquerade theme would be suitable to my Tarot card paintings and because I really do love making masks. I was even pondering setting up a ‘face printing’ area, where I could get simple mask bases made up of the attendees interested in commissioning me for a mask.

  2. I participated in a show called “Soft Abs,” which referred to the “soft” nature of the definition of abstract art. It featured four artists who approached abstraction in very different ways.

  3. Just last weekend I attended a “BRING IN THE CLOWNS” Group art show in San Clemente, CA. It was curated by a gentleman from Oceanside who brought together many eclectic artists to exhibit clown paintings and sculptures. It was very interesting how each artist had a different take on clowns (some were fun, some scary, some very very naughty) and the artists there were quite unique. It was one of the most memorable exhibits I’ve seen in a long time.

  4. As a jewelry artist, I think that it would be interesting to see an exhibition of works meant for unusual body parts. You know, not just necklaces, rings, and bracelets. I made a “calflet” (OK, I made that word up, it’s like a bracelet that fits on your calf) when I was in school and it would be interesting to see where on the body people would want to and be able to make pieces for.

  5. Another angle: I don’t thing there is any denying that “weird” or “a lot different” often attracts more press too! Thank you Alyson for this post.

  6. My theme for February is getting out of my Comfort Zone, so here’s my entry for today. I have a show, and installation, in the works now. Here’s a sneak preview. Out of respect for Alyson’s blog, and not to force others out of their comfort zone without permission, I am linking to my web page draft.
    Let it be known my art is erotic and this show is OUT THERE. (this show is all me, but I’d love to curate a group show.)
    Here’s the link (to the link)
    ( I can make the art all day long, but talking about it makes me blush ;o)

  7. Truthfully I’m not that interested in creating a buzz by being “weird” or “out there.” I suppose there’s a market for that sort of thing, and it may attract the media but I see a lot of artists trying to be shocking because it’s easier than spending the easel time creating quality work. I would hope that whatever your subject or theme, that you are doing it because it genuinely engages you as an artist and challenges you to excel at your chosen medium.

  8. Angela,
    I think you may be missing the point. I think the idea is to provide a forum for an artist to step out of their current comfort zone. I don’t think it’s solely for sake of being “shocking” or “weird”. It just may happen to be that an artist steps out and happens to create something that is out there, but that is not the intent. The intent is to release one’s self of any burden, rules or regulations that have been placed either by them or society or whatever. Freeing yourself of these conventions allows one to step outside of their “easel time” and try something new, possibly see another door that may in turn help them when they get back to their “normal” easel time.

  9. I am busy working on a piece for a challenging exhibit theme which requires working outside the box. “bi-1” is a craft contest and exhibition for innovative pieces of craft that serve at least two separate and distinct functions. Cheating is not allowed. For example:
    – one function cannot simply be decorative or aesthetic appeal – it is just assumed that the craft object will look good.
    – the functions must be distinct – a does not serve two functions because it can hold both coffee and tea.
    This call was issued by the Saskatchewan Craft Council for Traditions Handcraft Gallery.

  10. I’m a photographic based artist and a lot of the exhibitions and highly touted fine art photographers being promoted today work in what I call street photography. Dark, gritty, sad. A lot of photography exhibitions are also centered around this type of work. The darker, seedy sides of life. What I’d like to see is an exhibition entitled: “What’s Wrong With Being Just A Pretty Picture?”

  11. I’m working on an exhibit now that I’m calling One Square Mile, in which all pieces will be square, and the source will be from a single square mile near my home. My goal is to have at least 30 pieces, so I’ll be forced to consider more thoughtfully and deeply that which I would normally pass by. It’s been challenging and I hope in the end, worthwhile.

  12. Kaitlyn: It sounds as if that theme fits nicely with your work. Mask exhibits are very popular here in the US–not sure about across the pond. If I were encouraging you to do it over here, I’d tell you to try a unique angle: “Masks for Full Moons” or whatever.
    Maria: Sarasota, FL did clown sculpture by artists (a take off on the Cow Parade theme), but not sure if they thought about how creepy clowns are to some people. Of course in art we think of cheesy kitsch clown paintings, which are kinda fun.
    Wendy: That would be fun! How about combining your idea with Cynthia’s and doing an exhibit of jewelry for belly buttons?
    Carla: Thanks for sharing. We love your erotic art and it sure has a precedence in art history. No need to blush among artists!
    Angela: Sounds like this wouldn’t be for you–just as not every exhibit is for everyone. That’s totally cool.
    Will: Exactly. S-t-r-e-t-c-h. But remember that it’s not for everyone. When I was a curator I was insistent that any theme exhibit was based on the artists’ work–not vice versa.
    Roberta: “What’s Wrong With Being Just A Pretty Picture?” Now that might be the craziest thing mentioned yet!
    Patricia: That sounds like a wonderful series.

  13. Here in Greensboro, NC we’re having Eros 6 an exhibit of erotic art. What I enjoy about this show is that I can get”loose” as far as the imagery(and I love turning my imagination loose with this type of theme) and plus this state is part of the Bible Belt!! HEATHENS REJOICE!!!

  14. Alyson and Cynthia, Bellybuttons would be funny! You would have to come up with work for both innies and outies! I think that it’s fun to think about weird and out there subjects and themes. Sometimes thinking about something different helps us look at our not so weird work from a different angle.

  15. I’d like to see a show of paintings of ribbon — high end, satin ribbon.
    Or the tall show — every painting has to be tall and thin, or the sound show —
    a show of portraits all wired with speaker devices so you could push a button and hear a conversation. (Don’t take that last one — I’ve wanted to do it for years, but don’t know how). I better stop here because this is a great blog theme and I could go on for quite awhile. Fun topic.

  16. I love reading all your ideas. Particularly excited about Eros in the Bible Belt, I may need to confer with you, Michael, as I am coastal Maine, Wyeth country. A different degree of conservatism.
    Barbara, what you seek is tech available, easy and cheap, these days. Collaborate with a new media artist, blend traditional and new tech. I’d come see that show.
    Patricia, One Square Mile. Love that challenge as an artist, and the focus for a show.

  17. Forgot to say, Alyson, thanks for the encouragement, and the blog, cause this inspired me to take the first step out of the cloak of privacy I’ve held my project inside.

  18. Carla you realize that somewhere in our respective Bible belts that there are a couple of dunking chairs with our names already etched on them! Oh and by the way I kinda like Wyeth. I’m looking for my own Helga!

  19. Last night I attended the opening of a new show at a local gallery.
    Here is the prompt from the call for entries: “Second Space Gallery invites you to enter the juried exhibition entitled Lipstick and Rouge to be held in Spokane, Washington during December 2010. The title refers to the ways in which we perceive beauty through color. In the past, red has been associated with passion, love, anger, heat and a range of other things.
    The desire of Second Space Gallery is to see what it means to the artists. Over $1000 in prize money will be awarded to artists whose work adheres to theme, demonstrates impact and energy, and stimulates us visually.”
    I think it turned out well, and the works were personally inspiring. I ended taking 3 or 4 laps around the gallery, and there seemed to be good conversation going on.

  20. The SLAM-Soap Lake Art Museum has had several themed exhibits call
    the “GANG OF 20”
    20 artists invited to participate.
    1. Medicine Cabinets
    2. Chairs
    3 Recycled portraits
    4. A State of choice (United States)
    All were successful and not so out there but amazingly individualized.

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