I am often confounded with how talented my fellow students are, and the Student Art Show Opening this past Thursday was a wonderful reminder. At about 5:30 that evening, students, faculty, artists, and community members began to filter into the Bauman Galleries in Founder’s Hall. The space is slowly filled with smiles, contemplative looks, conversation, and laughter as everyone milled about, looking at the art and enjoying refreshments. As I walk throughout the galleries, I could hear snippets of sentiments, from amazed “ooh’s and ah’s” to more thoughtful comments on composition and color. The passing critiques made by viewers at the opening inspired me to review a few of the stand-out pieces at the show. Narrowing down the collection to just a few works was no easy task, but I somehow managed to pick just three to share with you here.
As I browse the East Gallery, it only takes a few minutes before I am stopped in my tracks by three vertical prints with very small details. As I come closer, the unfinished edges of the fiber paper, as well as the small, painted-on subjects become more apparent, only making me more intrigued. This series by Bretta Walker, named Parts 1, 2, and 3, are palladium prints, a process that involves creating and applying the light-sensitive emulsion to paper, making for very specifically composed images. Each “part” is a small section of the body. The center picture is a very small swipe of emulsion, as if a paintbrush hit the page almost by accident, exposing just a pair of eyes. The uneven shape of exposure balances the impeccable tonal range found in the small space, giving the eyes a haunting familiarity. By mirroring the aesthetic of delicately painted shapes with small, singular parts, Walker creates a narrative while still charging the viewer to fill in the rest of the mysterious story.
Across the hall in the West Gallery stand three corresponding cups amongst the ceramics on display. Each cup, made by Daniel Saperstein, is appropriately named after music notes, B, F#, and C#, as they mimic the organic yet masterfully crafted nature of a composed piece of music. Their hourglass–like shape, lipped base, and detailed top section follow the same design, but individually riff to create movement between the pieces. The glaze work on the cups reinforces the play of natural and unnatural, using basic colors (red, blue, and green) accented with the clear hand detail of the thicker, more saturated drips. I am particularly drawn to the design detail, the distinct folds and pockets at the top of each cup. These waves and indents give each cup their own personality, the resonation of the individual notes they are named for.
The open lobby space of the galleries serves as home for the paintings category of the show. Among many realist paintings stands a large cubist piece by Samantha Saatzer. This mixed media, charcoal and acrylic painting is hard to miss for many reasons. Strong blacks and whites are highlighted by orange and create small, abstract patterns all over the canvas. The title, Broken Space, is perfectly descriptive of the fractured nature. The style lines and colors remind me instantly of Picasso’s Portrait of Abroise Vollard. There is not human figure in this piece, you can see parts of the artist in the work; small details such as finger strokes and sketch lines. Each small geometric shape made is reminiscent of a leaf or a stained glass window. Unfamiliar shapes with familiar design trigger sensory memories, like the smell of fall. There is something about abstraction that opens a door to the viewer and waits for them to walk inside.
I must admit, this article is a bit of shameless Art Department promotion. The Student Art Show is open from now until December 5th , so please come by and check out the beautiful art mentioned here, as well as the rest of the amazing submissions. Don’t miss out on the chance to support Guilford students and discover the confounding talent I did last week.
Already been to the show? Tell is in the comments section about your favorite pieces.