“Lovers, Strangers, and Friends”: A Living Exhibit


Belen Yudess ‘25
Social Media Manager

A curator is someone who is able to visualize a scene that doesn’t exist. They turn a blank space into a collision of life and color. No matter how different the individual pieces are, when brought together, they tell a story that is unique to each viewer.

Marina Shishkina ’25 highlighted the art of curation during her recent gallery showing, entitled “Lovers, Strangers and Friends,” which took place on Feb. 26. This space featured insightful 2D, 3D, and conceptual art that highlighted the unity of the body, mind, and soul. Primarily, it cultivated a special and rare sense of community amongst strangers, old and new friends, and lovers of all kinds.

“I would consider this curation and this whole event a piece of my artwork because it’s all about the people that came, the people that met each other, the music, and the experiences that they had — all of that within itself is art,” said Shishkina. “Art doesn’t need to be this 2D sculpture, there’s just more to it.”

The idea for this exhibition began at the beginning of last semester when Shishkina noticed the absence of a formal art community at Scripps and the 5Cs. A self-designed curatorial studies major, she wanted to create an environment that allowed others to share their passion for art, regardless of their chosen style.

The initial inspiration for this undertaking came a few years ago from an unlikely source: a friend’s dad. “We were talking about me wanting to be a curator, and he was like, you should curate my living room. I have all these pictures. If you want to be doing something, literally do it tomorrow, do it right now,’” she said.

Shishkina proceeded to arrange his photographs and realized her love for the behind-the-scenes nature of art curation. “I just need to do this,” she said. “I can curate anything whenever I want. I just need to start and document it.”

The next step in this process was finding students who would be willing to showcase their work. Luckily,
Shishkina already had a running list of artists she had met during her first semester classes. After establishing a program of 17 people, Shishkina noted the impact that the two conceptual artists had on demonstrating the diverse nature of art.

“Brian’s work was a performance art piece,” said Shishkina. “He dyed his hair to match a painting that was being sold and shown in the gallery. It was really awesome. He ended up performing two of his rap songs and then taking off his durag and showing off his hair, and Amanda had recorded an audio recording that people could come and listen to in their headphones. And it was this really intimate conversation between her and her boyfriend in bed, it was a separate medium that you don’t see every day.”

Shishkina also included a bar where attendees and bartenders alike were shown that art is not only a medium to admire, but one that can be experienced as well. It’s a place where people can have informal or genuine interactions that they never expected or knew they needed. “It’s this really important connection between control and letting go [and] you have to balance those two out, like in the perfect medium to have everything [when running a bar] go very smoothly,” said Shishkina.

Shishkina’s goal was to cultivate an environment that allowed people to feel present in the moment while appreciating the creativity that was around them. She said that along with the bar, the addition of student performances and a DJ were essential in drawing interest to the event.

“The music and the bar were mimicking New York City gallery opening vibes… a bar and music and a DJ is… a way to attract people,” said Shishkina. “These are college students. To get most people to come, you need to make it a fun event.”

Although this event was important to Shishkina as an artist, it took on a whole new meaning when the unimaginable occured three days prior to the show: the attack on Shishkina’s home country, Ukraine. “There’s actual war and bombing happening next to my home — next to my apartment,” she said.

Shishkina had family in Kyiv when the invasion began, and heavily debated whether she should proceed with the gallery. After much deliberation and support from her team and fellow contributors, Shishkina not only carried on with her plan, but was able to raise nearly $2,000 for Come Back Alive Ukraine, an organization that provides essential supplies to the armed forces of Ukraine.

That night also allowed Shishkina to deliver a message about the power of appreciation during times of tragedy.

“The worst thing I could [have done was] cancel this show and be sad about not following my dreams,” said Shishkina. “I was able to leave for America and I was able to be free and live in this country and study all these beautiful things. The best thing I can do is to keep learning here and keep trying to thrive so I can bring goodness into the world.”

“I want to thank my team – my friends, who held my hand while putting on this show together: Sophie Feldman, Caroline Tuck, Esther L. Cohen, Giulia Bellon, Josh Wolters, Tjaard Van Loben Sels… Please make sure to find them and give them a hug. All the proceeds in this show will be donated to Ukraine,” said Shishkina.

She encourages anyone who is interested in art or curation to approach her in order to continue to build the art community within the 5Cs.

Image Source: Marina Shishkina ‘25

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