Friday, January 10, 2014

Global Perspectives Exhibit in The Gallery at TCC

The Weekly Volcano, Jan. 9, 2014

Sculptured Ethiopian heads by May Murrell
The latest show at The Gallery at Tacoma Community College is outstanding. It provides a look into the art and cultures — and most particularly the lives of working class people throughout the world as seen through the eyes of local artists. Included are paintings, drawings, sculpture and photography by regional artists who are also world travelers, and in some instances art from other cultures collected by these regional artists.

As explained in a press release: “A new exhibit in The Gallery at TCC explores the ever-expanding web of connections that brings ideas and people from disparate cultures and locations into contact. Artists have always drawn on thematic and stylistic influences from beyond their native cultures, but this show demonstrates how globalization, the Internet, and other factors have accelerated the give-and-take.”

One of the more intriguing pieces in the show is David L. Edwards’ pyrophllite sculpture “East/West Fears,” which offers a multi-layered view of the complex and precarious relationships between East and West. It is two heads joined together, one white and one brown. The brown head wears a burka type head covering; the white one wears a military helmet. Pyrophllite is a mineral that in its natural state can look like marble or crystal and can be brown or white.

The theme of the show is summed up in Tom Goss’s statement about his painting “The Heat.” He writes that it “addresses the climate of fear and intimidation that has been created both nationally and internationally under the so-called War on Terror.” The painting is of a Picasso-esque sleeping figure in a tortured position in a cramped bed. Prison-like bars of light pour through slatted window blinds while outside can be seen the dark shape of an ominous figure, perhaps a guard. The muted blue, green and black colors are mystical.

Becky Frehse’s eight photos of a man refining salt in Sichuan Province, China, elevates documentary photography to a higher artistic plane. Her use of smoky soft focus captures the feel of the place and looks painterly.

I was particularly taken by William Mitchell’s four photos of street art in the San Telmo neighborhood in Buenos Aires. One is of a mural depicting an interior scene with people watching TV and drinking beer. The painting style reminds me of Seattle artist Fay Jones.
 Another of Mitchell’s photos is of street art showing two men with long arms reaching downward on the crumbling plaster wall of the building. The grittiness of these figures made me think of gargoyles.

Cara Thompson’s wall sculpture “Mapping the Blind Spots” is a fascinating depiction of how and what people choose to see. It is a series of wall-mounted cardboard tubes or tunnels with maps on the inside of places the artist has visited and in the far end of each tunnel a convex mirror reflects the viewer’s face. 

[Tacoma Community College, Global Perspectives, noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, through March 21, reception Jan. 13, 4-7 p.m., panel discussion Jan. 22, 4-5:30 p.m., Building 5A, entrance off South 12th Street between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma.]

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