There’s a certain feeling you get when you walk into a really great art show. I’m not one for crowds, but seeing a huge throng of people at an art gallery is an exception, especially when they’re all there to see work done by our friends and fellow classmates. The renovations done to Founders hall in 2012 were met with mixed emotions and opinions, but you can’t deny that the gallery space it allowed for upstairs is a definite step up on the classy scale – a few steps up, in fact. This year, the space was used to it’s full advantage. In one of the Bauman galleries, towering white pedestals with an array of different prints, pots, and sculptures scattered on and between them practically begged to be explored. In the other, piece after piece of traditional and digital paintings lined the walls, inviting you in for closer examination while still making you step back to see the work as a whole. In the atrium, large paintings and wall-sized found-object sculptures made for a continuous flow of amazement as viewers walked the perimeter multiple times.
Viewers were in awe of Adam Faust, the master of the found object. I overheard a kid say the sculpture “with the white fluff” looked like someone ripped the wall and “teddy bear stuffing” was coming out of it. Not only is that totally adorable, but also go ahead and pat yourself on the back for getting a youngster involved in art critique. Levi Mahan‘s pottery is beautiful, no question. There’s something about his work – so modern, yet so classic – like it was made yesterday but still could show up in an Édouard Manet still life. Shammia McQuaig‘s sculpture is surreal – recognizable elements blended with out-of-the-box-thinking. I was brilliantly bombarded by her corner of the gallery space with work on pedestals, work hanging from the ceiling, and I swear I saw dry ice. Daniel Saperstein, holy cow. I’d never seen – or heard – anything like it. His large pots emitted this ethereal, almost eerie music he’d written. Each pot, using it’s aesthetically pleasing beauty combined with this magical sound, casts this calming feeling over the room. Hannah Reed‘s paintings dance. The soft colors and even softer brush strokes make their way around the canvas, sometimes forming harder lines and shapes, and you can just about make out what it is – almost. Fhalyshia Orians‘ paintings are creating the opposite effect, with the same pleasing outcome. Line and form make definite scenes, made with glorious globs of paint. Hannah’s softer application indicates a trust of her materials, and Fhalyshia’s thicker paint application does the same. Alejo Salcedo, as Adele Wayman said during the opening reception, is a sorcerer. Whether they’re black and white or hand-colored by him, his large-scale linocut prints seem to have been done by a machine instead of a human. So much precision is bound to look magical. Chris Austin deserves thanks for bringing the digital painting world forward to Guilford’s campus. It’s a practice that is still deep-rooted in traditional values even though you don’t need tangible paint. It’s less messy, I’ll give you that, but it’s harder to handle at times. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say his work didn’t look like it was made with tangible paint regardless of the lack of ridged brush strokes. Kelly Taylor‘s still-life paintings may be macabre and dark, but you’d be lying if you said they weren’t beautiful. She still manages to capture light and feeling in such a dark setting.
Guilford’s thesis art shows are never something to scoff at, but this year has to be my favorite, hands down. I think Altered actually “altered” the way we’ll see art students and shows from now on, and everyone, thesis and non-thesis, coming after this will really have to step up their game.