ASU exhibit explores relationship between the real, imagined

ASU's Action, Advocacy, Arts fall 2014

Life brings with it many variations. Both the real and imagined form our perceptions of everyday life – the things, people, places and memories that surround us. Reality might have a hint of dreams, and dreams a dash of reality.

Arizona State University's Action, Advocacy, Arts fall exhibit explores the relationship between the real and imagined. More than 100 works from 52 working professionals and emerging artists illustrate impressions of the environment we live in.

Organized by the College of Public Programs, the public art exhibit provides community organizations and individuals the opportunity to share valuable visual art stories with more than 8,000 people in the downtown ASU community. The exhibit is on display through Dec. 12 on the first, second and third floors of the University Center building on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus.

“The community arts program engages the downtown community with themes that appeal to a broad audience,” says Carrie Tovar, curator of art for the College of Public Programs. "We continue to broaden not only our audience, but the participants in the exhibits. We have reached out to nonprofit arts organizations, elementary and high schools, as well as to professional artists.”

“As a new student to ASU, I thought this would be a good way to get my foot in the door,” says Heidi Horchler, an undergraduate student in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

"I chose to be a part of this exhibition because of its uniqueness. There are not very many venues that include a range from children's art to professional artists," says John Avedisian, a practicing artist and art teacher. "It is truly a community exhibition."

Artists explore real and imagined

The exhibit includes works of various media, including paintings, collages, pencil drawings and sculpture.

“We asked people to explore the environment we live in, to look closely at the details and the relationship between what is real and what is imagined. The theme is broad and open to various interpretations to allow the artists as much creative freedom as possible,” says Tovar.

“For me, the exhibit 'Real and Imagined' was an invitation to explore balance between opposing concepts,” says Claudia Martinez. “Far from being parallel, the paths of reality and imagination often cross to allow us to be innovative and creative.”

“The idea for 'The Debate' comes from walking through a supermarket one day,” says Avedisianm, who lived in Russia for two years and has been back many times since. “Two of the workers, a man and a woman, were having a very loud argument over a large plucked bird on a tray. One was shouting, 'Indeika! (turkey),' and the other was shouting 'Utka! (duck).' The argument continued for a very long time and a large crowd gathered around them to watch this very serious debate. The whole thing was so absurd and so surreal that it inspired a painting.”

“This theme was a perfect fit for my viewpoint,” says Mark Woehrle, a lifelong photographer. “For some reason, people put more faith in photographs being ‘the real world’ than other art forms that they assume are imagined. That simply is not true.”

He explains that photography captures only a moment in time, and time does not stand still. He also says that a photographer selects a viewpoint, choosing what to leave in or out, creating a distortion of reality.

“Many of the images I included in the photographs I submitted are reflections. Reflections alter reality. The images I take of reflections include what's behind me, what's in front of me, and sometimes what's in the background of what's in front of me. I also like to do images with shadows in them because shadows alter surfaces, and shadows change throughout the day and time of year,” Woehrle says.

Horchler has two pieces in the exhibit. "Floating," an architectural study of the science building at Scottsdale Community College, blends science and creativity as a grounded solid form floating in an imaginary space. "3 Waves" is an ocean sunset inspired by children’s literature illustration and underwater biology.

Avedisian says, “I think that all art is the essence of humanity. It can inspire us to think, it can enlighten and it can entertain. It is a respite from our daily business. Art is a reaction to the things we all experience. Art should not be elitist. It should be available to all.”

The gallery is free to view and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for holidays. Guided tours may be arranged by contacting Carrie Tovar at For more on Action, Advocacy, Arts, visit