When people think of art exhibits, they usually think of visual art such as paintings and ceramics.
However, Danish artist Tove Nyholm, who has a background in art history and archaeology, took a much different approach to art with her art exhibit, “Voices From Within,” which is now on display in the Art Gallery in the Winter Visual Performing Arts Center.
Nyholm’s theme for this exhibit is forgiveness, but instead of presenting a series of paintings, she has constructed a large three-dimensional maze for the viewer to listen to real people’s stories of forgiveness.
As they enter the VPAC’s Art Gallery, viewers are asked to remove their shoes and jackets in order to create a casual, comfortable atmosphere.
On the outside, the maze itself is rather plain-looking and doesn’t look too exciting.
The inside is dark and confined, but there are also several pads on the floor throughout the maze. When they step on the pads, the viewer will be able to hear clear audio recordings of people telling their stories of forgiveness.
Some of these story tellers include a young woman who was sexually assaulted by her cousin on the night he killed his parents and sister; a Vietnam War veteran who took part in spreading Agent Orange throughout Vietnam; a divorcee whose son has become angry since the divorce; and a middle-aged man whose deeply insecure father was emotionally abusive towards his mother.
In each of their stories, these people explain how these events left emotional scars, their road to forgiving others, or in some cases, being forgiven, and how they grew stronger because of these events.
The young woman learned to forgive her cousin because she was inspired by how her cousin’s church was so willing to forgive him and support her and her family in the healing process.
The Vietnam War vet recalls how he broke down crying as he publicly apologized to Vietnam on Vietnamese national television for Agent Orange and its devastating effects and how the country miraculously forgave him and the rest of America. The divorcee and her ex-husband sit down with their son and clarify that they got a divorce because they knew that if they stayed together, their shaky marriage would eventually affect him negatively.
The middle-aged man resolves his differences and issues with his father right before his father passes away due to an infection.
The storytelling in this exhibit feels very natural, organic, and not overly rehearsed.
The way these people tell their stories makes it sound like they’re actually recounting their own stories of forgiveness instead of them just reading or memorizing a script.
Their voices go up and down, display plenty of emotion, and even shake or crack as if they’re about to start crying. That makes the overall effect of this sound maze strong.
It’s also interesting when there are several people in the maze at one time, and you can hear all the people telling their stories all at once.
“Voices From Within” provides a unique experience for the viewer and listener. Instead of focusing on visuals, Nyholm focuses on getting a response from her audience in an auditory sense by having her subjects actually tell their stories.
As a result, the experience is quite moving.
“Voices From Within,” will be on display in the Winter Center’s Art Gallery until March 31st.