The Best of All Possible Worlds

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detail (DRAIN)
Jasmine Wallace

Group exhibition round 2 of 2010 U of M MFA thesis projects featuring: David Donovan, Laura Primozic, Chad Rutter, Meng Tang, Jasmine Wallace, Josh Winkler

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Chad Rutter
Souvenir Skull Stand

Personally I thought that the series of souvenir stands was the most intriguing solely based on execution. They were perfectly, mathematically and exceptionally, constructed. The precision of cuts and seamlessness of the lines was mind-boggling. I have first hand experience with wood construction from sculpture this semester and getting perfect precise cuts to fit together so well is extremely difficult and time consuming. The wood constructions themselves, to me, looked like little skate parks or hot wheels tracks (without the presence of objects), and especially the rock stand with the bear at the top was remarkably dynamic. The most visually appealing, I thought though. was the skull stand. To me it looked like the top of a coffin, and with the skull on top of it gave me the sense of perfect death because of the wood construction precision. I thought that it also had one of the most significant detail work out of the series because the outline of the wood held contour with the meandering nature of the broken skull.

At this Nash Gallery the art piece that stood out to me the most was the art called "And Then There Was One" by Laura Primozic. It is a round wood table/or flat surface with a sky light cloudy blue in the center and four piles of, what looks like, cans around the blue center. She used clay, wax, and wood to construct this piece. The blue center is made of wax that looks like a body of water, and it streams out through the sides between a couple of the piles. The piles are all clay cans that are are dark color and shine, like metal. The piles look like mountains sitting next to this blue body of water. On on the the piles there are clay flowers, colored orange/pink with green leaves coming out of the cracks of the cans.
This piece stood out to me because at first glance from a far it just looked like a pile of trash (cans) in a pile. Who would think that was art? Well, as interested as I was so figure out why this person decided to make cans, I walked over there. Looking at this piece close up made all the shapes and colors beauty stand out. Every detail I could tell that it took a long time to create. My favorite part of this project was that only one of the piles had flowers on it. It was like it was saying that to just get on the other side of the mountain, there's life, hope, happiness. The water in the center pictured peace and calmness for me. The piles with no flowers was the troubles people might face blocking them away from the beauty of nature. I liked that the piles looked like mountains and the color and shine made them very pretty other than what we'd normally think of cans to look like. Also, on the body of water in the center of the four piles of cans there was a white clay ice berg looking object. That added an interesting affect like temperature to the project. The center must be cold because of the ice berg and the outside warm because of the flowers.

Laura Primozic
"And then there was one"
clay, wax, wood

"Weapons of mass destruction"
clay, wax, metal

For me, it seems logical to talk about both of these sculptures as one environment.
"And then there was one" and "Weapons of mass destruction" created a provocative and captivating landscape. Each of the works contributed to a larger statement about aggressive environmental destruction.

"And then there was one" was a smaller sculpture consisting of one small iceberg surrounded by a myriad of tall stacks of oil barrels. The scale of the piece extremely emphasized the dominance of oil drilling and environmental conflict. The mystery and voyeuristic quality of the inanimate objects seemed to give them life. I felt as if I was witnessing a gang of bullies surrounding their victim.

"Weapons of Mass destruction" continued the metaphorical narrative with three additional sculptures. My favorite aspect of these sculptures was there sense of space. Many of these icebergs were suspended in the air by string (at eye level). This placement of objects really brought me into the action. The beautiful detail and depth of the icebergs really made them very beautiful against the terrible machines.

Of all of the works, these two pieces resonated with me most. The message and the execution of scale, space, and metaphor made this happen for me.

Laura Primozie - And then there was one

I chose to write about this piece because of the message that it presented. The piece was an iceberg thing in some water enclosed in mountains of cans. The colors of this piece are really nice with the light blue water and the rusty brown of the cans. The reality of this piece is that nature is slowly going away and us humans are the cause of it. As time goes on, the amount of trash in the world will only continue to rise. Instead of having actual mountains, trash will be used to replace nature. It's sad, but it's the truth. Recycling will slow the amount of trash down but it can't be reversed.

Laura Primozic
And Then There Was One (clay, wax and wood) - 3 part piece

Glaciers Melting In The Dead Of The Night (clay and wax)

These two pieces I believe to all fit together really well even though they are separate pieces. The second piece listed shows small icebergs/glaciers at a far distance from one another and a lot of open water to represent that they are melting. The other piece has an iceberg seeming to get towed away, a bunch of boats surrounding a glacier seeming to take it apart/destroy it and one that looks as if there was a giant oil spill to maybe represent the pollution and/or global warming affects. These to pieces can fit together because pollution and global warming can cause the glaciers to melt at an advanced rate and by showing the boats, that add pollution, and the pile, of what appears to be, oil containers and the spills that came with them. The used media was well chosen because it makes the subjects (water, glaciers, etc.) easier to visual and more realistic.

Josh K. Winkler

"Islands of Agriculture"

Color Woodcut

I was really impressed with all of this guy's woodcuts. They are all really intricate and well thought out. I love his use of color in all of them, particularly in "Islands of Agriculture." The blue he uses for the water is such a captivating color and it is complemented very well by the green used in the landscape. The piece depicts a beautiful mountain lake and the surrounding area, which is riddled with industry, litter, and people's leisurely activities. In the lake, there are boats, jet skis, and buoys to control boat traffic. On land there are benches, kfc buckets, fields of crops, and power lines. In the air, there are a couple airplanes flying multiple banners each. So it is pretty much showing an environment that is completely dominated by human culture, yet in my opinion, it still looks very appealing. I don't know if that's what the artist was going for, because it is pretty common, if not a cliche, to comment on how human's are ruining the environment. But I was in Lake Tahoe recently, a complete ski resort town, dominated by people and tourists, but the sheer beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains outweighs all of that to the point where it is one of my favorite places i've visited. The landscape depicted in this is more cluttered than that however, which leads me to think that his purpose was to say humans have ruined this place, but I think I would like it better if he was saying, "Hey, this place is still awesome even though everyone goes here and there's tons of industry around it. That doesn't have to completely ruin it!" But overall, I really like the artistic quality of the piece.

Artist: Laura Primozic
Title: Weapons of Mass Destruction
Clay, wax, metal

This was my favorite piece of the exhibit. It was extremely interesting and very well thought-out. The piece had metallic ships stuck onto pieces of blue wax, which represented the ocean/sea. These pieces were then hanging from above with nylon strings, which made it less evident that it was hanging. The main centerpiece in the middle was on a stand and it was of a melting down and being broken down glacier. It had many ships around it and seas coming from all directions and the ships had ropes tying onto the glacier, which was made of wax. The ropes were attached to a sharper metallic piece on the land, which shows the brutality of these weapons and how destructive they can be. The use of metal could also show how materialistic-orientated we as humans are and how everybody is fighting for the same thing which in this case was land. This battle over it is showed to cause the demolition of nature and the world. The piece was also set up with a white background where there were outlines of bigger glaciers. The idea that can be taken from this is that the world is slowly being destroyed and if we do not do something about it then those other glaciers will soon become like the glacier that is presented in front of our eyes. The whole setting added a lot to as to why this was the piece I liked the most. The color contrast of he blue wax to the white clay and the brownish metallic ships made the idea seem very simple. The piece as a whole is a reminder of the movie set of Avatar where the mountains are just floating in the sky, and the ships and sea follows the same concept. The lighting used in this piece was also well placed where it was not to bright, but instead the main focus was on the main centerpiece of the glacier and some spots of light on the ships itself. This really exemplifies the importance of the glacier, as everything else around it is quite dark.

Jasmine Wallace
[ Drain ]

Jasmine piece of work that was display on the wall reminded me of different elements in nature. There were flowers, plants, rocks, and even newspaper rolled up into tiny cylinders that formed into what seemed to look like honey bee hive homes. All of those combined into one to represent what she thought of the world. Like many of the other artists art work displayed I've noticed her work strikingly compared to others because it was not only displayed on the wall, but also on the floor as well. I enjoyed viewing the splatter on the floor. I felt like the art work was melting off the wall onto the floor. Which showed the elements contain within Jasmine's master piece. Inside of the paper mache there was more life. As oppose to looking at it only from the outside, I only would have saw a form of a tree trunk, ready to erupt from the ground. Hidden in a way that no one could see the depth meaning of Jasmine's world.

Laura Primozic
[ And Then There Was One ]

Laura's art work was a bit confusing to me. I wasn't sure what she was trying to convey with the flowers on one side of the massive objects that looked to be like cans of some sort. Perhaps waste from what our population has led up to. The candle wax that was used to demonstrate water worked out perfectly. However I think maybe adding a darker color to even out the objects that was above the wax could have made her project more interesting. The flowers were beautiful, but I didn't understand the concept between the cans vs the flower on ice. I'm not sure what I was looking for with her piece.

Woodcut Prints (“The Land of Diorama” & “Island of Agriculture”
By Josh K Winkler

I chose to critique the thesis project of Josh K Winkler. His work was focused around a collection of “woodcut” prints. These prints look very unique because of the seldom-used method he chose to use. His prints were also accompanied by a story detailing the background of the pictures. I really liked that he provided background to his pictures because the pictures were so familiar looking it was nice to find out where they came from. I decided to focus this critique on two of his prints, The Land of Diorama and Island of Agriculture. The Land of Diorama is a picture of large-scale fish at a tourist attraction. I was immediately was drawn to this because I remember seeing these fish as a child. All the fish are native of the Midwest and the main attraction in this picture is the giant Muskie. This was the only print by Winkler that doesn’t feature really obvious man made intervention on nature. However his background on this piece does present a message along those lines. He was showing how man has conquered the once wild lakes, rivers and streams of this area. He also talked about how the landscaped area surrounding the model fish required watering the grass, which makes you think about how man has impacted wildlife. The other painting by Winkler I really liked was entitled “Island of Agriculture.” This print provided a much more in-your-face view of man’s intervention in nature. The viewpoint of this picture is on top of a cliff, overlooking a bay and other waterways. This view should make one feel at ease with this beautiful vantage point but this print doesn’t anything but make you feel at ease. There is garbage in the foreground of the picture and large power lines running’s through the background. The once scenic bat is littered with boats and different types of ugly industrial machinery. I thought this print provided a vivid look into how quickly a scenic bay can be turned into an industrial nightmare!

Alex Kuettel

The piece I liked most in The Best of All Possible Worlds was Josh k. Winkler’s “Monuments, Miracles, & Mega Folk Fauna.” While many works of art take a side for or against a certain issue (such as humans’ control of the environment), Winkler shows the positive and negative aspects of the actions that humans have taken with regard to the environment. For example, on the one hand, he shows how our actions have hurt old animals via hunting or changed the living spaces of fishes through the creation of dams. On the other hand, though, he glorifies some of the actions that humans have taken despite the fact that they may hurt the environment a little bit. This balanced view of the environment is a stark contrast to many other works of art I have seen that always berate the actions of humans, even if they are in our best interest. While Winkler acknowledges that some of the things we do in our everyday lives hurt the environment, he takes his analysis one step further and points out that sometimes these actions are net beneficial for us. The unique perspective brought into the exhibit by this piece was refreshing for me, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Laura Primozic
Glaciers Melting In The Dead Of Night
Weapons Of Mass Destruction
And Then There Was One

So in each piece there is a connection in each piece. This connection that I got from the pieces together is talking about the environment. The whole piece has a very realistic idea of the whole dumping big containers of oilcans in the arctic area. I liked the idea of the whole clay, wax, and metal idea. I liked how each different material contrasts with each other. It makes each object stand out. The thing that I feel that the artist could have done though was also let the observer know about the other problems that is going on in the environment, she could have done an expansion to the whole “dumping” issue. This is really a great way to show about the issues in the environment. This piece was very well thought about, and very appealing. The best part that I like about this piece is how the Nylon stripes in the form of the glaciers.

Chad Rutter
Double Billboard

The piece Double Billboard by Chad Rutter, is a photograph focused on a white, blank billboard in a field. I was drawn to this piece because of the clouds in the sky behind the billboard. They are really magnificent looking, and I think are set off even more by the slightly different colored white of the billboard in the foreground. The photograph was simple and easy to look at, in that it only featured a field, sky and a plain, white rectangle in the middle. But when you start to look at it, it's hard to look away. There are subtle details in the grasses and points of light in the clouds that pull your focus in. As opposed to the green of the grass and the texture and light of the clouds, the billboard is plain, flat, and white, which makes it stand out from the rest of the photograph, in a subtle way.

The piece that I thought was most interesting was by Josh K. Winkler titled "Islands of Agriculture". The piece is from a viewpoint looking down on a giant beautiful blue lake surrounded by big brownish/grey mountains. Even though the scenery he creates is beautiful, the surroundings are not. The land is covered in trash, garbage, and pollution, and in the sky is a two airplanes flying banners behind them. Also in the water are several very large boats as well as a giant power line running through the middle. It is clear that the artist is trying to convey some sort of message of how easily humans can interfere with the environment and how the environment always come second to the industry. This piece is very relevant to issues going on today because obviously the "go green" movement is in full effect and many people are becoming more aware of the way we are treating the environment. Overall, I really like this piece and the message that Josh K. Winkler is trying to convey

Artist: Meng Tang
Piece: Impression: Babel

At the Nash Gallery, the piece that caught my attention the most was a video installation that aims to shift our attention towards cultural and racial differences as well as the fact that we can understand or at least try to understand others even though the spoken language is different.

This is a 4-screen installation with a black, plain background, a light illuminating the center of it, and a few people speaking. The people differ by age, color, height, weight, and so on while their body except the head and the shins and feet are covered in newspaper. They speak, but it was impossible for me to understand what they were saying because all of them were speaking at the same time and they spoke languages I did not know. I have noticed that some of the individuals spoke with a quiet voice while the rest were "hearable." It was also interesting to see that, after talking, some people walked backwards looking at the camera whereas some turned their back and left.

It is a strange atmosphere - looking at those people and trying to understand what their argument is. One thing that I concluded is no matter what language we spoke, we can effectively do the same thing and communicate emotions to wievers. We are all the same. We might differ by language and color, but we all feel and think and act. To my understanding, Meng Tang wanted to emphasize this, and I thought the artist did a good job.