Union’s noteworthy (Citations)

Samantha Mogelonsky’s Digiti Hominum makes a point.
Samantha Mogelonsky’s Digiti Hominum makes a point.
Photo: 
Influential artists adorn diaphanous material in Lisa Visser’s Construct.
Influential artists adorn diaphanous material in Lisa Visser’s Construct.
Photo: 

Fine Art Review: (Citations) at Union Gallery

Four years of reading, assimilating, comprehending, appropriating, and learning: that’s the life university students choose for themselves, but for what?

Three fine art students have come together in a new show called (Citations) out of a shared interest in exploring literature’s effects on a person’s life, with refreshingly original results. Artists Samantha Mogelonsky, Sarah Smith and Lisa Visser worked collaboratively, but also took their mutual concept and split into three different directions. Under the roof of the Union Gallery, the three artists meet to reveal their final products to each other and to the public.

Mogelonsky’s assembled works consist of different “found” and “made” objects, such as her engaging Digiti Hominum. In this piece, unearthly-shaded fingers creep out of a compartmentalized drawer. The fingers reach and curl in a familiar fashion, but are arranged in a way that evokes fascination not normally conjured by our own bodies. Herein lies an element of the direction of her focus, which she explores further in her other installations.

Smith’s video piece Edmund and the Wardrobe relates more closely to the conceptual orgins of literature. In this work, two images share the screen: one of the mother, the other of the daughter. Although the pair face each other and are reciting the same text, a lack of comprehension exists between the two. This commentary on the miscommunication that exists in a typical relationship is revealed in an original and captivating manner.

Lisa Visser’s Construct is installed in the project room of the gallery, and in the form of a three-dimensional space it brings to fruition the influence of literature on the artist. Stepping into the room is like stepping into the artist’s mind to look at where her inspirations lie. The accompanying audio is provided through a set of headphones, whose positioning and short wire force a particular perspective on the room. Plainly printed quotations, mainly from the artists’ own manifestos, hang on the walls. A diaphanous material bearing photographs of influential artists is hung loosely above. These two elements, combined with a distorted audio track, profoundly reveal the internal process of inspiration and learning as an artist through the exploration of life and the questions that accompany it.

The three artists also combined their efforts to create art collaboratively. In To, For, From, Love each artist chose an inscription from a book someone had given them and framed the page. The pages share the intimate connection between people, books, and the written word. In another collaborative effort the artists created My Hope Lies . . . , a quote created out of phonetic symbols on separate copper segments. This work makes the eye linger slightly longer, simply because it requires a great deal of deciphering on the viewer’s part. The work turns the act of viewing into a game—a fun interaction between the viewer and the piece. More importantly, it makes the viewer reflect upon the nature of words. My advice? Bring a dictionary unless you’re well-acquainted with phonetics.

Overall, Mogelonsky, Smith and Visser succeeded in exploring a literary base as a root of inspiration and learning. (Citations) demonstrates these artists’ awareness of and connection to a surrounding world of thought expressed through written words. As students, understanding this exhibition is easy, because we have all dealt with mass amounts of reading in the pursuit of learning. Even if they are unconscious of this fact, most students at some point have contemplated the same issues that are explored in this collection. (Citations) is the materialization of that contemplation. For this very reason, everyone—especially students—should see it, because we’re already living it.

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(Citations) is on at the Union Gallery until Nov. 29.

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