What do you get when you compile eight of the top art students at a university and give them the chance to create and organize their own show? The answer is part classical and part modernist, a little culinary, a lot exhibitionist and a whole slew of self-expressionistic statement making. Wednesday, April 6 marks the opening of a month-long installation of art exhibits by the Art Dept.’s honors program participants. Combining elements of sculpture, painting, photography, architecture, performance and collage work, the pieces promise to both provoke thought and provide a fair share of tasteful, artfully inclined nudity. The shows work to culminate a yearlong, labor-intensive study program that was started by the department to inspire and train its best students for a career in art-making that reaches beyond their undergraduate course load. The program consists of eight students: John Ebel-Davies, Ambre Gonzales, Loie Hollowell, Howard Hung, Janice Kang, Danny Lewis, Ander Mikalson and Lynn Rinek, all of whom were granted honors status following a demanding application process and evaluation. Assisted by an adviser, each of the students has spent the first two quarters of the year concentrating their studies, first in Fall Quarter with an introduction to the program, then through Winter Quarter with a series of grueling critiques – finally concluding in Spring Quarter with a week-long showing of his or her work. With each of the artists coming from different backgrounds and disciplines, the works being shown are as diverse as their creators. The four shows – split into two groups of two students, a group of three students and an individual show, respectively – will each run for a week in Gallery 1434 of the Arts Building. These exhibits, which open to the public every Wednesday at 6:30[[a.m.? p.m.?]], will provide free food and drinks to all who attend.
Speaking with Lynn Rinek and John Davies, they say their art showcase should be subtitled “Back to Basics.” These two artists share a unique affinity in their work for simplistic, natural materials. Davies’ work includes extensive use of wood and other construction materials. In one piece, he examines the concept of time in relation to the rings of a tree. Along with his interest in architecture, Davies also developed a conceptual model of a Nautilus building. In an attempt to overlap architecture and sculpture, this piece should be quite engaging to the viewer. Davies hopes that visitors will try to imagine for themselves what the interior of the building might be like. Among the other projects, Rinek is looking to combine two sweet parts of nature: sugar and the female form. In one striking piece, she created a cast of her own breasts entirely out of sugar. She explained how she displayed this piece herself in some of our more conservative communities. Not entirely for shock value, Rinek said that she received a variety of reactions. Continuing her exploration of the female form she has produced several self-portraits aimed at simplifying and conceptualizing her own female form. Interestingly, both artists agree that their artwork has a sense of environmental relevancy. As the first members of the honors program to exhibit their pieces this quarter, they seem eager to set the bar for their comrades.
From haystacks to soup cans, these honors students draw from sources of personal inspiration to create their own artwork. They find innovative ways to explore their ideas in hopes of realizing some greater meaning. Ander Milkalson and Loie Hollowell share similar thoughts. Their work harmonizes their shared ideas about what they want their art to communicate. Prominent in much of their past works, women and the role of motherhood interests both of these artists. Mikalson’s pieces are said to have a multilayered trend. The psychoanalytical nature of Mikalson’s work mixes together her tendency to play with the roles of gender while creating something implicitly sexual without being outrageous and shocking. Both women also seem to employ objects of a more feminine nature to create symbolism in their work. Hollowell’s own paintings and sculptures find their home happily in a fantasy realm. Her work exists in a fully realized world, which unites the innocence of childhood and the darker macabre of adult sexuality. By combining such dualistic elements the artists strive to communicate their own psychological arguments.
The artistic triple threat of the showcase comes mid-month as Janice Kang, Danny Lewis and Ambre Gonzales share gallery space starting April 20. The group, united by common mediums (as well as their ability to make the most of their workspace), brings with them a number of themes both individually resonant and collectively meaningful. Kang, who works primarily with still photography, unassumingly describes her exhibit as “a surprise,” but says that her show, like most her pieces, will work “to explore notions of beauty and identity through issues of race, gender [and] sexuality,” as well as her role as a queer female minority. Co-exhibitor Danny Lewis describes his portion of the show with controlled gusto, conjuring the idea of “some cool moving pictures on the wall with some sounds; dripping faucets, flushing toilets and possibly some helicopters.” Upon further questioning, Lewis clarified that the helicopters being used would be of the Army/Navy variety. Of the three, Gozales’ vision seems to be the most developed. “I am going to be using audio cassette tapes, as I have been using in my work for the past two years” she says. “Basically, what I am interested in is the containment of sound and [the idea] that you can take apart a cassette tape and pretty much destroy it, but the sound still exists on the tape itself.” Her installation will be a combination of photography, sound clips and video images that touch on themes of childhood nostalgia as they look forward to the impact that technology has had on our generation. Using the cassette as both prop and medium Gonzales, hopes to explore the phasing out of the cassette tape and what this notion of the obsolete means to her personally. All the artists plan to use some form of audio-visual display, certain to make the show a three-way artistic bombardment on the senses. Working alongside one another for the past two quarters, the trio is eager to see how their individual efforts will transform into a collaborative finished product: “Each and every one of us does something radically different, and I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone is doing … because it really is [going to be a surprise]. I think we are all really trying to pull out the stops and do something different,” Lewis said.
The final show from Howard Hung, the self-proclaimed “bastard child” of the group, begins on Wednesday, April 27. The senior is a firm believer that “art is half making whatever you are creating, [while the other] half is BS-ing about it so people are duped into understanding your concepts, and maybe even agreeing with you. I try to have a surface meaning and aesthetic while [still maintaining] a deeper ulterior meaning and purpose to each piece I make.” Flying solo in his display, Hung admits to not being too fond of the gallery setting, preferring instead to work outside the confines of a set space. The exhibit, which can best be described as a sort of performance-documentary hybrid work, centers around notions of community and interaction. When asked about his contribution, Howard stated that, “I kind of have two aspects to what I’m trying to do for my show. The first of which is just my own gallery usage… I’m kind of taking my version of what a gallery should be. The second aspect is that I want to get all the undergrads together [and have an open house].” Known primarily for his culinary-based performance pieces, Hung’s gallery space will document interactions centered around food and the communal atmosphere that cooking creates. Over the course of the week, photos and retrospective pieces will be added to the show, culminating Friday evening with a progressive dinner opening event. The potluck will provide an opportunity for Hung to thank his peers and professors as well as “to educate people unaware of the art scene” on campus. The event will also act as the unveiling of Hung’s completed interactive project with a display of still pictures and video collected and compiled over the course of the week. For Howard, it’s about “having the basic viewer come out of the exhibit with a simple understanding of what art means to our department by interacting with the participating artists and faculty in the exhibition.”