Monday, July 22

Students express their individuality in Hammer Museum art exhibit, “It’s All Been Done Before But Not By Me”


The Hammer Museum program "It's All Been Done Before But Not By Me" begins tonight at 7 p.m. The exhibit features student-submitted art from various mediums such as film, mural, live performance and traditional visual art.

The Hammer Museum program "It's All Been Done Before But Not By Me" begins tonight at 7 p.m. The exhibit features student-submitted art from various mediums such as film, mural, live performance and traditional visual art. Hammer Museum


There is a certain line of thinking that asserts that all the great works have already been created, and all new art is just variations on old ideas. While this might make it seem as if the arts are in for a dull future, a mix of students and staff at UCLA and the Hammer Museum have embraced the idea and still managed to create a fresh take on art that will be exhibited in the event “It’s All Been Done Before But Not By Me.”

The event, which starts at 7 p.m. tonight at the Hammer Museum, showcases works by UCLA students, spanning all types of media, including traditional visual art, short film, performance pieces and murals. The only requirement beyond basic size restrictions was that the art embodied the open-ended prompt stated in the event’s title: “It’s All Been Done Before But Not By Me.”

“It was just that idea of having that individuality,” said Gwen Thorn, co-director of the Student Committee for the Arts at UCLA and one of the event’s organizers.

The title itself grew out of a phrase overheard by Meryl Friedman, director of education and outreach at UCLA Live. The phrase was brought up during the title selection process, and its cleverness and meaning stuck.

“This one particular phrase just struck us all as kind of whimsical, and funny, and a little bit tongue-in-cheek and expressed the sentiment of what we were trying to get at,” Friedman said. “No, there’s nothing new in this world, but yes, everything is new when someone else tries to put their mark on it.”

The night is another event in a yearlong series funded by a UCLA Arts Initiative grant. According to Friedman, the grant was given in part to promote collaboration among departments on campus. The inclusion of several different artistic disciplines in the event was very much in the same spirit of the grant’s objective of bringing together different types of art.

“On the UCLA campus, there’s really no place for students from all the disciplines to talk and get together,” said Maritza Yoes, a fourth-year theater student and member of the Hammer Student Association. “It’s amazing to me the amount of work we produce in the theater department that a lot of people outside the theater department don’t know about.”

Beyond interdepartmental collaboration, the night offers a chance for UCLA student artists to be showcased in a very professional setting outside of the usual campus venues.

“This is a great opportunity, especially since it’s being housed at the Hammer, which is a world-renowned art institute,” Thorn said.

Similarly, the night is a means to expose the Hammer Museum to students, creating new patrons for the Westwood institution.

“The Hammer is an amazing place for students to gather and become immersed in art,” Yoes said. “It’s always a place for students to come, but this night in particular, students are going to feel like it’s not just a museum.”

Above all, the focus of the night returns to the arts and the idea of creativity and personal expression, as embodied by the event’s title. For Friedman, these are important life skills and some of the main reasons for engaging students in the arts.

“Art does many things. It levels the playing field; it allows people an opportunity to be heard in a way that is sometimes less judgmental than in an academic area,” Friedman said.

“I think it’s easy not to take a risk. I think it’s comforting to be safe in your thinking or your way of expression. … The great thing about the arts is that it requires you to risk something.”

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