Tim McCool's contributions to an upcoming Boston art exhibition are black ink on white paper, minimal details, refreshingly simple.
The former Forest Hills resident is one of five students who will be featured in the "Students Curate Students" exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which runs from March 9 through Aug. 18 at the museum's Courtyard Gallery.
The 2006 graduate of Woodland Hills High School, who is pursuing a masters of fine arts degree through Tufts University from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, will also be part of an Artists’ Talk on March 27.
Each year, McCool explained, the museum provides graduate and undergraduate students the chance to propose a show to be exhibited in the museum. A classmate of his came up with the idea and McCool jumped at the opportunity.
Inspired by writer Jonathan Franzen's 2011 essay, “Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts,” the exhibition of the same name explores social media's threat to meaningful human connections today's wired world.
According to the museum's description of the exhibition, "the ease with which online connections are forged signals a troubling change in the way that we understand our relationships with one another. These five artists demonstrate a willingness to run toward the discomfort and hurt that comes from participating in the world offline. Their works are a call to emotional bravery, asking viewers to embrace the pain that comes from authentic existence."
McCool said that means that while you're on the computer or on Facebook, there's a good chance you'll "like" something whether or not you really like it. But when you are in a real life experience, he said, it's not about whether you "like" or dislike something.
The theme explores going beyond just "liking" something and going for the initial impact of your feelings.
"You have to make some decisions, not just push a button," he said, noting the theme of the exhibit resonated with him personally. "I try to take an optimistic point of view toward technology."
McCool said he uses Twitter and Facebook to keep in touch with friends across the United States and abroad. Yet there is a gap between what you can really share using technology versus the kind of relationship you can have in person. He has tried to incorporate various experiences you have online and face-to-face.
He's even optimistic enough to view Twitter as a way to use writing skills since you have to brainstorm to keep Tweets within 140 characters.
"Writing is writing," he said. "It gets your brain working."
Each of the five artists in the exhibition have works that revolve around the theme, including film, photography, drawings, watercolor and oil paintings. McCool has about 12 drawings that are thematically and individually related.
McCool says he does a lot of writing and that feeds into his drawings. For the exhibition, his "very simple" drawings are of little random objects from daily life and the sentences or thoughts they are speaking.
"They have these feelings and emotions," he said. "I want to get people to think why objects feel that way and why they relate to the objects feeling that way. Because they are simple drawings, it allows people to enter into them with no real assumptions so they don't analyze them or think hard about them."
In addition to drawing, McCool works in sculpture and photography.
"They (at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) really encourage you to experiment with a lot of different things," he said. "The main strength of the school is how interdisciplinary it is."
He will finish a two-year program this May with a degree in studio art and art history. His goal is to teach art at a college level.
His parents, Tom and Maria McCool, live in Wilkins Township.