Submitted on Thursday, 10/17/2019, at 3:12 PM

Asking the question, “What exactly defines contemporary art?”, The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Steve Pfarrer recently accompanied a tour of the Mead Art Museum led by David Little, the Mead’s director and chief curator, viewing the exhibit sampling the recent gift of more than 170 works of contemporary art.

Pfarrer notes the works exhibit “a dark sense of humor — as well as some more serious commentary on current social and political issues such as climate change and immigration.”

Little told Pfarrer and his other guests that contemporary artists often “don’t necessarily think that art must be sacred … There’s the idea of the artist being a scavenger [for materials] and testing and blurring boundaries between mediums.”

For instance, there’s the example of “Good With Houseplants,” by Amherst sculptor and installation artist Sarah Braman: a piece made from pieces of Plexiglass, acrylic paint and tape.

“It’s not bronze, it’s not marble, it’s not made of any of the typical materials we associate with sculpture,” Little said. “The kind of haphazard way it’s put together goes against the traditional type of sculpture. But here you could take it apart, make it smaller, put it back together in a different way, and it would still work … I think it speaks to where a lot of [contemporary] art is going.”