One of the things that I find was lacking in this exhibition was a general statement about the show, its mission and theme, unity, or background. There is nothing posted that provides the viewer with an entry into the space, nor that indicates how the show came about, what its purpose is, why or how the artists were selected to exhibit together or how that process came about. This makes it difficult to have a context to ground the compilation of the works together, and to contextualize the critique and the responses of the observer.
That said, the three pieces that I was most drawn to in the student gallery were the works of Ben Garthus, Toby Sisson, and Bart Vargas. Two of the works are paintings, and one of is a sculpture.
Fresh Works Critique #1
Emission Control, 2007
Exhaust on canvas
This assemblage of forty-nine 4â€? x 4â€? canvases is a work that I had noticed my first time visiting this show. I went on the first day of classes, prior to having an assignment to view the show and write about it. The series of painting are symmetrically arranged on the wall with equal spacing between them to form a composite square made up of smaller square canvases. The canvases are white primed canvases that have appears to have been stretched over the exhaust pipes of motor vehicles. The palette of the works is black, white, and gray, not totally monochromatic, but pretty close. Several things strike me about this work. It makes an environmental, and in a sense political statement about the world environment, about ecology, through the means of its production and its physical essence of being. Philosophically and aesthetically this is pretty profound. Visually it is interesting in its composition, as a series, which is evocative of movement, motion, process, spatiotemporal conceptual notions such as film and photography usually convey. The primary form is a sphere created by the form of the tailpipe and the emission of the exhaust. The organization of the image appears somewhat random, in the sense that it does not create any sort of chronology or construct a narrative that makes systematic sense. Yet, there is a cyclical quality that has harmony and unity to the fragmented images. It reminds me somewhat of the cycles of the moon, or the movement of a planet in the sky.Fresh Works Critique #2
Information Bomb, 2008
Paper mache, salvaged plastic, flash drive
This sculpture is made out of paper mÃ¢chÃ©, salvaged keyboard â€œbuttonsâ€? and a flash drive attached to a cord. It is pear-shaped to resemble a bomb, and the flash drive and cord flow out of the top waiting to be ignited like the wick on a piece of dynamite. All of the keys are â€œFâ€? keys or function keys with numbers. There are no ABCs. The sculpture is a powerful metaphor signifying the electronic age and the significance of the awesome and potential destructive [and constructive] impact of information on the world, and in particular, to human communication and civilization. Technically it is compact and extremely well executed. Not shabby, nor schlocky.
Fresh Work Critique #3
Submerge I and II, 2008
Encaustic, iron oxide, copper leaf, and oil on wood
I would call this work a diptych. Although it does not have a hinge to me it can be read as a sort of set of tablets. The work is comprised of two wooden panels approximately
4â€™ x 2â€™ each hung and displayed as an ensemble. The medium is encaustic, a hot wax pigment, combined with iron oxide, copper leaf, and oil paint on wood. Compositionally abstract, with a semi-glossy yet black matte ground, its pockmarked surface and constellation-like, with lyrical, ethereal figures in pinkish-red, pastel pink, oranges, and yellow. Submerge I and II as the title evokes a submarine aero-scape as one imagines youâ€™d see below the surface of the ocean. One also has the sense that it could be a reflection of the night sky mirrored in water. I like the use of materials in this piece. It is very tactile and textural. I like it because I donâ€™t know how it was made. That makes me curious about how to do encaustic.