Signs and symbols: you see them everywhere, from the little red hand telling you not to walk to the golden arches of greasy goodness. So why not add a few more to your repertoire? The Viking Union Gallery offers up its new exhibit on signs and symbols for your viewing and interpreting pleasure.

The exhibit, entitled “Semiotics: A Culture of Visual Communication,” opens its doors on Monday, November 28 and runs until December 9. It is a “group exhibition featuring works in the theme of signs and symbols from around the world,” according to the show’s promotional materials.

“Semiotics is our first group show for fall quarter,” said Heidi Norgaard, the VU Gallery’s assistant coordinator.

Norgaard explains that a group show involves several artists’ works which take part in the pre-determined theme. “A group show is great because anyone can submit and everyone has an equal chance of getting [their art] in,” said Norgaard.
This show’s theme, semiotics, centers around the study of the use of signs and symbols as a form of global and social communication.

The VU Gallery is entirely student-curated. The coordinator of the gallery space, Kelly Warner, and the assistant coordinator, Norgaard, will be in charge of selecting themes and exhibit pieces for the academic year.

“We sit down and brainstorm a huge list of themes at the beginning of the year,” said Norgaard. “Then we pick themes. We chose signs and symbols this time; we were really interested in ideas of signage for communication.”

Norgaard also said that once the theme of semiotics had been selected, it was time to start gathering art pieces. “Once we picked a theme, there was a call for art. Anyone can submit, and we pick the ones we liked the best,” she said.

For this group exhibit, there will be five artists’ works featured. These artists are Susan Aurand, Shelly Murney, Gabriel Brown, Robert Hardgrave, and Paul Lau. Lau is a Western student.

Several of the works will be paintings, including the works of Aurand, Lau, and Hardgrave. Murney’s contribution is in photography, while Brown’s is a video of a performance piece.

Norgaard described Brown’s featured work as both video documentary and performance art. She said that he recorded and looped a video of himself standing in a busy intersection in Spokane, Washington, wearing a business suit and holding a sign as a homeless person might. “It’s performance art, but we can’t have him here every day to perform. We’ll also include some of the signs that he’s held,” said Norgaard.

Aurand is a member of the faculty at the Evergreen State College. She is a professional artist, and did post-graduate research in the field of semiotics. She will have several paintings on display.

Norgaard highly recommends checking out the exhibit, and the gallery in general. “A lot of really interesting people use that space,” she said. “If you get the chance to go, just go. It’s always surprising how good it turns out. It’s worth your while to come and see it,” she said.

To kick off the new exhibit, there will be a Reception on Monday, November 28 at 6 p.m. in the VU Gallery in Viking Union, room 507. Norgaard said that there will be food, coffee, and maybe even some of the artists in attendance. The reception is free and open to all.

The VU Gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the semiotics exhibit or the VU Gallery in general, contact Kelly Warner or Heidi Norgaard at 650-6534, or email them at asp.vu.gallery@wwu.edu.