Deceptive Strength

Deceptive strength: an Art History SIP

The idea of deceptive strength is one that resonates with all of us. Often we find ourselves in a place of frustration when we feel our humanity seeping through the cracks of the images that we have so painstakingly constructed. So much of our society tells us to “keep it together” and avoid any appearance of weakness and ultimately harmful requirement.

At this point, you may be asking, “what does ‘deceptive strength’ mean and why should I care?” Though that phrase looks different according to experience, in my mind it looks like something once whole, transformed. Our beliefs about strength can be easily shattered, and yet our stereotypes continue to nurture them in a vicious cycle. This does not mean that the thing is no longer worth looking at, but that through its story of brokenness it’s made new. You should care about it, because it’s the title of a new kind of Senior Integration Project. 

This idea of deceptive strength is the propelling force behind Sarah Perri’s art SIP curation. As the second senior at Covenant College to curate a show, Perri’s project sets her apart from the work of art seniors that we anticipate every spring. This gives her the opportunity to challenge people in a way that is different from her peers and to incorporate the works of many artists and their stories in relation to her theme. 

The works featured in her show includes local artists, faculty, art majors, and non-art majors for a deeply moving curation. By inviting many artists with very different experiences to participate, Perri created a space in which multiple narratives to exist. Featured artists include Meg Earll,  Michael Fuller, Cosi Goodman, Kayb Joseph, Abi Ogle, Raymond Padron, Caleb Smith, Greg Van Dyke, and Allison Vaught. The show promotes an incredible sense of empathy regarding the dichotomy of strength and weakness that we as humans are familiar with: the waves of grief, the temptation to look away, and the effects of fading glory, among others. 

The show presents works of art that were both specifically created for this theme of deceptive strength as well as pre-existing pieces that resonate with Perri’s message. The curatorial notes written to accompany each work were exclusively by Perri. This was an important part of the process for her SIP as well as aiding the viewer in understanding her interpretation of both deceptive strength and how that idea relates to the artwork.

Upon experiencing this show, the viewer is taken to a place of thoughtful contemplation. There are many hard subjects addressed by these chosen pieces, but there are also spaces for unexpected delight. Whether or not you love art, taking the time to look and listen to what others have to say is important. The works selected for this show will only be available for two weeks, so don’t be afraid to look and let someone else’s experience with their deceptive strength transform the way you consider your own.