Have you ever been walking across campus and wondered, “What’s that smell?” It’s actually a new immersive art experience. A graduate art student exhibited a new art piece last month titled “Scents of Society.”
Paris Montgomery, an AU graduate student, wanted to revolutionize how we experience art.
“Everyone can look at a good painting, listen to a good song, or go to the theatre, but how often can you experience the arts through your sense of smell?” Montgomery said.
Montgomery said she got her inspiration from the Tenleytown bus station. “Whenever you step out of that bus, you’re immediately confronted with a stench that is so absolutely rancid that it immediately brings you to tears,” she said. “The only other thing to ever stimulate my senses in such a profound and emotional way is a good painting.”
“We jumped on the opportunity to bring Paris’s project to life,” said a spokesperson from the AU Art Museum. “She showed real ambition and we were more than happy to help. I respect her decision to showcase her work across the entire quad. It means that students will actually experience something from our own museum for once. Most people don’t even realize the museum exists.”
Montgomery wanted to create a blend of the worst smells imaginable. She accomplished this by recreating the smells of a wet dog, Chipotle bathroom, the Anacostia after 2 days of heavy rain and a boys’ triple in Letts.
AU students, on the other hand, are not very happy with the exhibition. “It feels inescapable. First we had to deal with the smell of Tenleytown, now our campus too?” said sophomore Stephen Lovell. “It’s like the Wonk Bus is just transporting us between horse stables and a sewer.”
“This new art piece takes my breath away,” said junior Abby Corgan. “I mean, I literally cannot breathe whenever I’m on campus.”
“My upperclassmen friends always warned me that AU would be pretty shitty,” said freshman Enid Hook. “I didn’t realize they meant it literally.”
Students aren’t the only ones who have been seemingly affected by the smell. There have been multiple reports that the Wonk Cat has been spending much more time off campus since the art piece was exhibited.
“I’ve heard so many people say that my exhibition has made them feel awful.” Montgomery said. “But art is supposed to make you feel things, and I believe that I have succeeded at that … even if that feeling is nausea.”
Caeden Cloud is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs and The Eagle’s assistant opinion editor.