Student Union Art Gallery Showcases All-Student Exhibit
By Aria Bracci | Monday, April 11, 2016
Monday, April 11, 2016
If one were to walk into the Student Union Art Gallery (SUAG) between now and April 15, 2016, the first thing they'd see would be the words "Pop Show II" stenciled onto the facing wall. The second would probably be the 32-minute, wall-projected photo montage of Brooke Shields. The third would be the smiling face of HFA student Sara Groves at the staff desk.
Groves, a junior Studio Art major with a printmaking concentration, curated Pop Show II with the help of graduate student Tovah Rudawski, both of whom submitted work to the exhibit. Groves' and Rudawski's collaboration, due to their distinct artistic mediums and styles, more largely represents the diversity of the collection, which includes multi-part installations (like Groves' "Closet"), flat framed pieces (like Rudawski's collaborative jewel case collection, "Covers," with Buzzy Napoli), and, of course, a projector hookup to loop images of the Suddenly Susan actress.
As songs like "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips ring throughout the space, the equally as gentle lighting frames the work that some students have been working on for months. "We knew that we were curating [the show] at the beginning of the semester," explained Groves, "but we didn't start putting it together until mid-semester. People didn't have work until the last minute anyways. That's usually how it is with art students." As she laughed, "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer continued in queue and Jenny Hersh, seated below a photograph from participating artist Paul Teeling, laughed in return.
Hersh is also a junior Studio Art major, but as she is pursuing a concentration in sculpture, her exhibit submissions (all pristinely white and three-dimensional) stand in the middle of the gallery on tall columns. "I'm a sculpture concentration," she said, "and I wasn't really sure what to put in here since a lot of my work is little tests" (or "mockettes," as she called them).
"These are in-progress works for bigger pieces but also pieces that can stand by themselves," she said in reference to her three sculptures, all cast plaster and made from found objects—specifically, people's trash. "I wanted to use casting as a means of encasing objects, but also as a physical representation of absent objects," she said. "For me, these were explorations and impressions of lost or discarded things."
One can spot soda cans, plastic bags, and bubble wrap in the white molds, objects familiar in shape but foreign in substance. "The color also plays into it because they're more anonymous that way," said Hersh. "They're more like relics."
Other pieces include a gentle watercolor of a five-member human pyramid titled "Beach Boys" (Napoli) alongside what appears to be candy-colored microscope slides but it actually a series of "gumballs and dye on paper" ("Gumballs 1-4," Lauren Bennett).
Brian Paul's piece "VITAL NUTRIENTS / NICHE RAFT" centers around a dining room table-sized platform strewn with such items as a bottle of personal lubricant and a partially-burned paperback book. On the artist card, the condition ("used") and origin ("found") is detailed for each object, some as specific as a "River Valley Co-op vacuum-sealed Hanger steak (no hormones, no antibiotics)."
Around the corner, Groves' "Closet" features a lamp-lit table below a mounted mirror, both either surrounded by or covered with such personal items as clothing, nail polish bottles, and an empty champagne bottle (complete with the price sticker, reading $6.29). Upon closer inspection, the pockets and seams of the clothes are found to be printed with detailed sketches of the human form, from legs to faces to torsos. Smaller drawings are tucked into the corners of the mirror alongside film photos and a sealed package of teeth
The variety is mind-blowing. "Not all of them are even art majors," explained Hersh, "but it's a pretty even split between grad students—potentially even in their final year—and undergraduates." Considering the student representation, Groves noted that "having the personal connection [was] an exciting experience" in curation. "It was fun putting together," she said. "A group of students is exciting because I know these people and I know their work."
Hersh also expressed that this exhibit represented exactly what student-artists need, and exactly what the SUAG space serves to offer: "art inclusion by students, for students, and a valid space for developing artists to show." In Hersh's words, this exhibit, particularly in the kind of the talent it showcases, is "exactly in keeping with what we want for the show and the gallery."
The Student Union Art Gallery is open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pop Show II will be on display until Friday, April 15.