Video feature: 'David Dobkin: Amateur Artist'

Sept. 26, 2013 noon
Dobkin index

Video stills courtesy of Nick Barberio, Office of Communications

How has the idea of the amateur, or "lover of things," exerted influence on and been challenged by contemporary visual art? That question guides a new Princeton University exhibition and graduate seminar. 

This video features the unique exhibition of sculptures, photo collages and site-specific installations by Dean of the Faculty David Dobkin, a self-identified amateur artist who collects and creatively repurposes a vast array of things from daily life. The exhibition, presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts and titled "Myself, I Think We Should Keep Collecting Titles," is on display through Oct. 4 at the Lucas Gallery at 185 Nassau St. It is part of a graduate arts and humanities course, "Contemporary Art and the Amateur," taught by Joe Scanlan, professor and director of the Program in Visual Arts at the Lewis Center.

The exhibition features hundreds of objects, including snow globes, popsicle sticks, water bottle caps, Snapple lids, compact discs, keyboards, motherboards, paper tubes, credit cards, safety rings, fasteners, postcards and pennies, as well as hundreds of photographs of food items, menus, waiters, signs, phone booths, friends and colleagues.

"From an early age, I was possessed by a compulsion to collect and organize objects, and my art follows this compulsion," said Dobkin, also the Phillip Y. Goldman '86 Professor in Computer Science.
According to Scanlan: "The course and the exhibition explore the concept of the amateur as a liberated novice, a nonprofessional, a 'lover of things.' David is a great example of a person whose proclivities are perfectly manifested as works of art, regardless of his formal training. Like many artists, David notices objects and material flows that most people don't, and he combines them in ways that not only reveal his aesthetics and thought processes, but also spark curiosity and visual delight in the people who see them."

The Lucas Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Admission is free.