Words and their Meanings a Visual Exhibition 1-21 June 2012
Location: Library Foyer
We are accustomed to see words accompany images in advertising and design. We know the power of such words as ‘danger’, ‘excellence’ or ‘glamour’, but we are not always aware of their origins or earlier meanings. When we say the word clouds, we do not think of a stone or a lump of earth. When we speak of danger, we do not think of a landlord’s dominion. The word glamour, commonly associated with pop culture and fashion industry, used to mean witchcraft. At its source, however, ‘glamour’ is a corrupt form of ‘grammar’. Such changes are indications of the changing attitudes of the speakers of the language; they are records of misunderstandings as well as new ideas, scientific progress, and wars.
Working with the Academic Writing Centre, NUIG artists represented in this exhibition, created a visual commentary on the meanings of various words. Each contributor to this exhibition selected a single word to explore. The primary source for the artists’ research was the Oxford English Dictionary as well as a word list created by the Academic Writing Centre. Etymological dictionaries were used for Irish words. Artists used a variety of media including painting in watercolours and oils, photography, collage, and digital image manipulation. Approaches to the theme of the exhibition are similarly varied. Accompanying each artwork is a description of the word in question and the conceptual development of the piece.
Exploring the role of language in an increasingly visual culture, the exhibition draws attention to the importance of words and to the facts that their meanings are historically and culturally conditioned.
Words and Their Meanings exhibition is a staff-student collaboration project. The leaders of the project, Dr Irina Ruppo Malone (AWC), James Simmons (AWC), and Helen McFarlane (Art Soc), acknowledge the generous funding of the EXPLORE Initiative (supported by the Students’ Union and the Firelighter Bright Ideas Initiative) and the support of the James Hardiman Library. The exhibition will return to the James Hardiman Library in September 2012. Artists wishing to take part in the second phase of the exhibition should contact the AWC Facebook page no later than 1 August 2012.