Canadian-born Wendy Deschene is a multi-media artist with an MFA from the Tyler School of Art and repertoire as an art activist. In response to the constraints and limitations put on art displayed at traditional institutions and museums, Deschene has adopted an interventionist approach to linking the forces of the audience and artist as well as to critique the art world. A lot of this is accomplished through rogue means–such as installing artwork on the street or even within institution walls without permission–or, most notably, though community outreach.
She has initiated collaborative projects such as WYSISYG–“What You See Is What You Get”–that has toured to 11 different locations including the Art League of Houston, Minnesota State University, the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and The Henry Street Settlement in New York. WYSISYG is, essentially, a massive wall drawing with accompanying hanging frankensteins composed of old toys and stuffed animals. Members of the various communities would arrive to contribute to the wall drawing; the largest gathering was that of The Art Academy of Cincinanati, Ohio in 2006, which attracted not only students from surrounding colleges, but participants from the community as a whole, those from various other universities as well, and even an entire elementary school from the next state over. The purpose of the project was initially Deschene’s “personal exploration of cute, which [she] was using to parallel art history.” She pointed out the contradiction between the dangers of a grizzly bear and the fact that so many parents give teddy bears to their babies, as well as how an Impressionist painting that might have been considered obscene in it’s time now makes its way onto coffee mugs and other museum gift shop paraphernalia. Collaborators’ contributions of both drawings and materials are spun into a bizarre and spectacular art piece that varies by location in its size and contents, and seemingly-universal memories are spun and re-contextualized in a provocative way meant to garner a critical reaction from the audience.
WYSIWYG. “The Art Academy of Cincinnati, Ohio 2006.”
Cannon, Elizabeth. Campus News FAU. “Art Questioning Art and/or Stuffed Animals Guts”. 17, February 2006.