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Review: Jan Brugger "Devices to Stay Afloat"

Tessa Brubaker

Have you ever felt like you were just floating through life? I have at one point or another, which makes Jan Brugger’s Devices to Stay Afloat so relatable and captivating. Curated by Alyssa Brubaker, Visual Arts Curatorial Resident at Elastic Arts, 3429 W Diversey Ave, until Dec. 8, this art piece reminds those of us who feel like we’re trying to keep our head above water and the importance of finding the humor in everyday lives.

There is much to unpack when it comes to this unique art installation piece, from large photos depicting sculptures floating, or sinking, in Lake Michigan to the giant glacier or wave built against the wall, filled with old technology and sculptural ruins. There are many ways to perceive art, but one common theme through Devices to Stay Afloat is our shared millennial

anxiety. Brugger does a fantastic job of showcasing how sometimes as millennials, we get so used to feeling out of control. We float from job to job, getting by but not really moving far. Like the sculptures floating gently on the lake, not sinking but not making much of an impact. She also does an excellent job of showcasing how technology weighs us down, sometimes even suffocates us.

As a 22-year-old college student, I connected myself to this beautiful art. I understand the anxiety that most millennials or generation z's share. We feel scared for the future. Jobs are uncertain and the world around us seems to be getting more violent and scary every day. Our political climate has been shaky for years, leaving us without trust for public officials that

are supposed to be working towards our best interests. We’re left to pick up the pieces of climate change, an issue the older generation is just now coming to terms with. According to the American Psychological Association, millennials are the most anxious generation with 61 percent of college students experiencing frequent anxiety. My friends and I have experience with this, which is why Brugger’s work is so important.

Not everything is so dark when it comes to Devices to Stay Afloat, however. I love how Brugger brings humor into all of her art, adding positivity. The face mask on the sculpture makes the pictures uniquely Brugger. It’s a reminder to look at the humor of everyday life, despite the anxiety or sadness we may feel.

Come check out Jan Brugger: Devices to Stay Afloat as well as the closing party on December 7 from 7:30pm to 1am. Featuring a special screening of new works by the artist, followed by DJ performances by Stylin’ Out Network DJ’s Jackersize, jillian X and Quicktastic, you’ll be able to see this art installation for the last time. Head on over to to get your tickets for only $10.

- Tessa Brubaker

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