This past week I walked into a sparse art show at the SOA galleries. Upon entering one of the galleries, in the middle was a display which really caught my eye. When you walk in, there is a line across the floor and up the wall which separates the viewer from the display. Once you cross over it, you feel as if you have entered the boxing ring or arena.On the floor were three chess boards, set up to play. On either side of each chess board were pillows which people could kneel on or sit on while they faced each other in a match of minds.
The boards were thick slabs of wood and the chess pieces looked like huge nails, each with a different head. To play the game and move the pieces, the pieces had to be forcefully stabbed into the wood. These pieces were made using an elbow mill.
The artist for this display was Sam Mederos. Sam Mederos is a sculpting major looking to graduate within the next year. He posted a description of his art project in the gallery. He wanted viewers to interact with his art. He wanted six people to play at a time. Everyone else had to stand behind the line as spectators.
There were several inspirations to this gallery. Sam said he likes to play chess in calm settings. The room is dimly lit and bare, nothing to distract your focus. While this is an intellectual game, Sam also wanted to remind the viewers how chess is also a game of violence. He does this by making it in such a way that you have to forcefully stab the pieces into the board. The inspiration behind this is an ancient Chinese board game “Go”, which Sam has always enjoyed playing. This game is played on the grids of the board, as opposed to the squares. When a move is made, the piece is slammed on the board as an intimidation factor; just as the chess piece is stabbed into the board.