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The Blue & Gray Press | October 20, 2017

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GALL Brings Art out of Hiding and Into the Spotlight

SERENA EPSTEIN

Something sinister has been going on at UMW this year. Something frightening. Turn a corner on campus walk, and you might come face-to-face with… impromptu poetry readings!
But it doesn’t stop there. You may prefer people covered in paint, artwork made from trash, or public theatrical performances. How about massive pillow fights in Ball Circle? There’s nothing like being pummeled with goose feathers after a long day in class. Or maybe various knitted oddities are more up your alley. You can have it all.
You’ve probably seen the question “What is GALL?” scrawled across various bulletin boards, walls, and other similar surfaces on campus. So what is it? GALL, the acronym for “Guerilla Art Liberation Lives,” is a new club started this year by sophomore Mike Isaacson. The club works to drag art—in all its forms—out of dusty theaters, museums, and art galleries and deliver it directly to the students.
Isaacson was inspired by his experience performing in UMW Theatre’s 365 Plays/365 Days earlier in the school year. He “liked how the plays just started without warning in a public area. No stage, no separation from the audience, no expectation of applause. It was truly art for the sake of art.”
Crusading to rescue art from its glass prison, GALL delivers it to the UMW community in a way that is interesting, interactive, and impossible to ignore. On the club website, they assert their belief that “the separation of art from its audience is detrimental to the pursuit of art itself.  As a reaction to society, art should also elicit an immediate reaction from society.” While many artists strive to make their works shocking and provocative, GALL’s creations are “in your face” in a much more literal way.
With such ambitious goals but loose parameters, how does GALL define ‘art’? They don’t. Mike Isaacson states that if restrictive definitions were imposed upon their activites, “it would limit what the club could or would do … Granted, we do have to stay within the bounds of the legal and we have to go through the school for most things. Ideas involving certain things like pseudo-vandalism or partial nudity have to be brought to me so that I can ask the proper authorities, but otherwise, we’ll do anything that anyone in the club wants to do.”
So far, GALL has done poetry readings, battled with pillows, engaged in hilariously disturbing improv dialogues, chalked up campus walk, and decorated both t-shirts and people. At UMW Halloweens, held by Class Council this past Saturday, GALL members participated by doing free body painting and helping with pumpkin carving.
But what can we expect from them in the future? You’ll just have to wait and see because, as Mike says, “We like to keep events secret. Part of the fun is the element of surprise. The whole ‘Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition’ thing.” Despite GALL’s lack of the subsequent “ruthless efficiency,” and “an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope,” they still have the one key element of surprise, and it is clear that just because Halloween is over doesn’t mean that you’re safe.