On display at the Union Gallery until Jan. 18, Surface is the latest student exhibition to grace Stauffer’s art space, featuring works of mixed media, paintings and photographs.
In the exhibit’s pamphlet, curatorial assistant Claude Bock talked about how the art shown explores the idea of surface and how it affects our interpretation of a piece. He pointed out how many of the students involved in the creation of the exhibit used mixed media, heavy strokes and paint splatter to show “how [surface] can be as important as subject matter.”
Although mixed media made up much of the exhibit, there were a few paintings on canvas as well.
One example is “Portrait” by Alyssa Scott, BFA ’19. Here, Scott depicts an image of a man from the shoulders up.
Scott used dabs and smears of paint to shape the man’s face in a more realistic way than typical paintings. As a result, viewers get closer to the art and see its flaws, imperfections and vitality.
Other works featured everyday objects transposed into realistic paintings.
“Bacon and Eggs” by Mackenzie Gregson, BFA ’20, features “a still life of a still life” as she explained in an interview with The Journal.
The work is a mixed media piece depicting a table with the titular bacon and eggs – along with cut-out pages of still life paintings from an art magazine.
“Originally I was just going to paint newspapers onto the piece but my [professor] said, why would you do that to yourself?” Gregson said. Instead, she decided to incorporate the still life pages taken from art magazines and paste them onto canvas board.
“Some still lifes can be really boring … I wanted to create something very modern that people can relate to instead of the renaissance images,” she said.
(Photo by Sebastien Molgat)
Gregson used a blue-grey wood grain as the background of the image, the first application of the technique she’s since begun to use more frequently after noting its contrast with the brighter coffee cups, plates of food and grapefruits.
Ramolen Laruan, BFA ’18, debuted two new works for Surface.
Both “ode to my daddies” and “National Geographic – Come out where you are” are mixed media pieces and in Laruan’s words, “non-traditional.”
“I took these pages and just whited stuff out until the people in them had changed” she said. The images all feature groups of men with some portion of the page they’re on removed by the white out. The context of the pictures has been removed by Laruan, leaving viewers to interpret and consider the body language of the men much more deeply than before.
Laruan’s additional piece titled “ode to my daddies” features a large canvas with black bars running through a wild scenery. These black bars cut the piece up as if the work was split into many different smaller paintings.
Laruan meant for the piece to go against everything traditional about art. “It’s like the piece is bursting off the canvas, contained, but barely,” she said.
All the works featured in the latest Surface exhibition grapples with this idea of space and how the control of surface on an art piece allows the artist to similarly control the viewer’s perspective. This emphasis on texture and exterior places artistic expression over artistic tradition.
“Art is the most liberating thing, but if you look at it, there’s so many rules to that liberation a lot of time,” Laruan said.
Other artists featured in the Surface exhibit in the Union Gallery include Austin Henderson, Karen Law, Jaclyn McConnell, Jaclyn O’Brien, Alyssa Scott, Leigha Stiles and Xujing Zhang.
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