Entry #7: Week of April 4

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This journal entry is due by midnight, Sunday April 10.

Please visit the Katherine E. Nash Gallery exhibit, Everybody is an Astronaut -- MFA Thesis Exhibition, and pick one work of art from the show to which you felt a strong connection. Write a 2-3 paragraph response to the work and post it as a comment on the main blog page beneath this entry. In your response, describe the piece you chose and the connection you felt to it. Then answer the following questions:

1. What is the main metaphor of the piece?
2. What elements work effectively to make the piece visually and/or narratively compelling?
3. What elements work against the piece and what suggestion(s) might you have for the artist?

For information on the Nash Gallery and this event:
http://nash.umn.edu/events

11 Comments

The piece I chose did not have a name tag by it so I did not know the official name of the work. The piece was a large white wall with a piece of thin white wood trim running horizontally across it. Attached and formed over the thin white wood trim was a thin wire design. The wire was twisted and bended so that each time it was bent and 90 degree angle was formed.
The piece, at first, caught my attention not only by its size, but its bold white color as well. It wasn't until I had a closer look that I saw the wire beaming off of the skinny white trim. Taking even more time to notice the quality of the piece I came across the shadows of the wire being cast by the light overhead. Three shadows sprang against the white wall in three different directions. I felt strongly connected to the shadows of the piece because they gave what seemed to be an extremely dull piece at first, some dimension.
I believe the main metaphor of this piece shows us that taking the time to look more than once at anything can provide a whole other reaction and experience for the viewer. The most compelling element used in the piece was light. Without the light overhead, viewers would have not seen any shadows springing from the wire and not get any sense of dimension. A suggestion for the artist would be to add some color here or there. Although, the dark wire against a pure white background is striking, I think color would add a little something extra for people to look at and get a sense of emotion from.

I particularly enjoyed Areca Roe's Habitat collection. It was a series of photographs taken in zoos. The photo I enjoyed the most was "San Francisco Zoo, California, #1". It was a photo of a seal in a small pool with steps in a room with clouds painted on the wall. The metaphor of the piece was showing the fabricated habitat of the animal in the zoo. It is obviously not the animal's natural habitat, which makes the "faux-reality" of its design seem really odd. Her series of photographs makes this point well.
The composition of the piece was well done, in my opinion. Its color was mainly blue, which was a good choice to show how the exhibit is trying to mimic the seal's natural habitat. The play balls in the middle of the pool also add to the composition. The bright orange ball really stands out among the water and blue walls and floor.
Something that I would maybe suggest for the artist, or at least that I think would be another interesting perspective of the piece, would be to maybe back up the shot and expose more of the building where the seal exhibit is. I think it would add to making the point of the odd contrast of the natural vs. fabricated environments of the animals.

One of the pieces in the Nash I connected with was Jonathan Kaiser's Partial Infinity Room. In the work, a hexagon is formed from black plywood, the outside of which is covered with staples, a few drawings, and paper remnants. Looking through the gaps in the joined plywood, it is possible to make out a few mirrors in certain areas, referencing a mirrored "infinity room". The piece as a whole succeeds in referencing a modern urban landscape, reminding me of walls downtown or at venues which have been repeatedly pasted and re-pasted with flyers. The fact that the viewer can circle the piece completely without arriving anywhere reinforces the monotony of a metropolitan landscape. If there is indeed a metaphor of the piece, it lies in the fact that the glimpses you can get "behind the scenes" of the plywood dividers hint at something larger going on, but this seems slightly labored. In fact, the inside of the piece as a whole seems underdeveloped and sloppy, especially in relation to the artist's other works.

I also really enjoyed Areca Roe’s “Habitat” collection. Like Annelise said, it was a collection of photographs taken from different zoos in North America and Europe. I really connected with the two pieces that were not photographs though. There were two wooden boxes on the floor in the middle of the collection. The tops of both boxes were propped open to reveal a toy (one was a sled and one was a large ball) that I presume was placed inside a zoo animal’s cage at one point. In Roe’s book that accompanies her collection, she wrote that zoos “are a manufactured point of control with the wild, and fulfill some need we have as humans to connect with nature, with wilderness, and perhaps to have dominion and control over that wilderness.” To me, the two boxes represent the artificial nature of our relationship with wild animals in a zoo. Sleds and balls are designed by humans and usually used by humans. They were placed in an environment developed by humans, but were given to wild animals.
The elements effectively worked to convey this idea. Each toy was brightly colored and had several bite and scratch marks all over it. Toys are associated with fun and play, but both of these toys were put away into generic boxes, like the animals that are put into zoos.
If it were possible, I would have loved to see a photograph in the collection that included these toys from when they were inside the cages at the zoo. It would have been great to see which animal or animals played with these human-manufactured toys.

I really enjoyed "The Visible Spectrum" by Bart Vargas. I felt connected to it because the audience is able to see the imperfections, layers, and work that was put into the entire piece. The metaphor of the piece was using color pallets to go through the color spectrum, although the spectrum is clear, the pallets include various colors which add dimension to the spectrum.
The piece is compelling because all of the layering and work that was put in to the piece is visible. The lines are not straight, and there are wonderful imperfections throughout the entire piece, which is rather large. I don't think I have any suggestions for the artist, the second I saw the collection I knew it was my kind of art, imperfect, yet bright and clearly has a structure.

I thought polygon shaped black poster boards were compelling. It caught my attention, because it at first doesn't look like it should be in an art gallery. I found the piece to be very experimental and liked the fact that it was kind of an interactive piece.
The metaphor of the piece would be that infinity is right behind every day life. Since it had a series of mirrors that represented infinity on the inside.
My criticism for the work would be that it doesn't seem like a polished piece of art, but then again this is what makes it interesting. The meaning/metaphor behind the piece isn't extremely obvious from just looking at the work either.

I chose Brief Moments in Space, by Sam Hodihan. This work of art is composed of 2 pieces. The first piece is a black and white picture of a half-dome structure outside, in the winter. The dome is composed of translucent white plastic, and metal pipes. This picture is placed on a wall, above a pedestal, which contains the second piece; a 4x3 grid of cyan colored pictures. Each picture is that of a human face, all with eyes closed. I chose this piece, because it gave me a feeling of serenity when looking at the faces.
It is likely that the faces are the reactions of people who went inside this half dome structure. Thus, the clear metaphor would be that the dome represents relaxation, and specifically, that of the escapism type, as one would surmise by the keyword in the title of the work, "Brief". A temporary relief from reality.
The colors chose for this piece are very effective in conveying its message. The cyan color of the faces complements the expressions to convey relaxation. The black and white of the dome help show that the dome is a short escape from reality. The location of the dome seems to work against the message; why is there a building in the background? Is it happen stance, or was it intentional to convey meaning? If it is intended to convey meaning, then it is vague. A location in a more populated are may have conveyed a brief escape from reality better. Either that, or a location without buildings at all (or one that merely hints toward civilization other than the dome).

The piece I connected to the most at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery was titled "Mobile Creative Outpost" created by Ben Garthus. This was a massive series of plywood boxes fashioned as a trailer. I have a hard time even beginning to explain how magnificent it is. It is meant for interaction, but was displayed as a sculpture. It contained an adventure playground, art studio, urban outpost, social gathering point, camping utility, rec. center, game console, workshop, classroom, stage, and storage facility. This contraption was filled with fun things to find. I believe I connected to it so much because of my child-like mentality. Secretly I feel like an 8-year-old trapped in an 18-year-old's body.
I believe the main metaphor of this piece is that it represents endless fun. The infinite ways in which you can express your creativity. It's an outlet for those too afraid to have fun. The elements that work effectively for this piece, are its child-like quality. The fact that you could spend hours exploring the outpost, constantly finding new ways to experience it is amazing. I also really enjoy that it seems durable. Like it's meant to be explored. The only critism I would have, is to have it displayed outside. This is really more of a suggestion, but I think that that would really complete it.

I chose Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth, MN #1 by Areca Roe. I chose this because it seemed to look as one of the simplest at first but became a bit more complex as I kept on looking at it. The artwork itself is that of a bear at the Zoo with snow all around. But some of the picture the is obscured by the thick snowfall.
I saw this as a metaphor for our current relationship with nature and the environment. The snowfall seems to stands the passage of time. Because it not only shows just snow falling but the trails the flakes falling in almost like seeing the passage of time through the flakes. And because the snowflakes block the view of the bears face we as the audience feel a bit more disconnected to the bear. So if the bear were to the represent nature, and the snowfall to represent passage of time. Then the metaphor that I see is that as time passes by, the more disconnected we become with nature.
I think that the lighting works well with the piece. Because not only is it easy to know where it is coming from, it is also looks very natural. I helps bring out the brown bear from the dark trees behind it, and helps you understand it's overall form that is obscured by the snowflakes. What doesn't work it the spread of the snowflake trails. Most of them are of the left side of the the picture, with just normal static flakes on the right side. This makes the piece look unbalanced and uneven. So I would tell the artist to either cut some of the trails on the left side or put some on the right side.

The piece I chose was 'Travel Plans'. It was a small suitcase that was filled with sand. In the sand, there was drawn a map. I think the main metaphor is a criticism of a certain approach to travel. When planning for a trip, maybe the heaviest thing you take with you may be your plans. They can weigh you down with expectations and commitments when that isn't what may end up making your trip most enjoyable. Thus, the sand represents your travel plans: heavy and unnecessary.

Two chief things are effective in this piece: the arresting and unexpected visual juxtaposition of sand in the suitcase, and the way that different parts of the piece contribute to its definite meaning. The visual grabs attention. The sand and the suitcase indicate something to do with travel with the title giving additional meaning. From there, the metaphor quickly becomes clear.

One criticism I would make is that the suitcase used was unrealistically small and outdated. I would recommend using a normal-sized suitcase or a modern-style suitcase--the kind with the extendable handle and wheels--that might help indicate the specific approach to travel that is being criticized.

The art work I chose is call Areca Roe Central Park Zoo, New York # Archival pigment print 65” x 34” 2011. The reason I chose it is because it looked so real. When I was in front of the art, it was like I was in front of a window in a house that was in a forest. The glass in the image was so real, green and clear. The back ground was foggy and a little dark, looked like it was in the morning. The logs and trees looked smooth like animals’ used as a path. The ways the two images used and joined into one was great because I could see the wide range of the area which made the art work even more interesting to look at.

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This page contains a single entry by GiGi published on April 6, 2011 1:13 PM.

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