Friday, May 4, 2018

Senior Art Show at University of Puget Sound


By Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, May 3, 2018
 
painting by Kiri Bolles, courtesy University of Puget Sound
If the 12 artists represented in the Senior Art Show at University of Puget Sound’s Kittredge Gallery are an indication of what the future of art in the South Sound holds in store, the future shall be bright.
The Senior Art Show is Puget Sound’s annual exhibit of studio-based senior thesis projects by studio art majors represent the culmination of their studies at UPS with anywhere from a single piece to a dozen or more from each artist, with each artist’s work expressing a theme of their choosing.
Mairan Smith’s four oil-on-canvas paintings deal with “the ideas of intimacy, power and consent.” They are paintings of sleepers. Two of the paintings picture individual sleepers, vulnerable and alone, unaware they are being spied upon by the voyeur-artist. Apropos of the stated theme, the artist wields the power; the subjects have ostensibly not granted consent. The other two paintings are of couples sleeping together but with their bodies positioned at angles away from each other. The light and shade in all are dramatic, and the paint is applied in flat blocks of color with little modulation. Stylistically they teeter somewhere between the photo-realism and the more painterly realism in the Edward Hopper mold. I wish Smith had gone more in one direction or the other, either of which would have been more confident statement.
Similar to Smith’s paintings are Kiri Bolles’s surrealistic paintings of isolated figures, one male and four female. They are each carefully painted and realistic, like Smith’s paintings but leaning more toward trompe l’oeil painting. Each figure could be a fashion model, but for the addition of something strange. Bugs, flowers, and other things foreign to the body are seen crawling on or emerging from the bodies. These foreign invaders represent illnesses both physical and emotional, as indicated by the titles. One includes real (or perhaps silk) flowers projecting out of holes cut into the painted body of a woman. These are shocking images skillfully painted.
The most beautiful and most personally revealing, intellectually and emotionally challenging, are Emily Katz’s relief collage pictures of vaginas, each constructed of newsprint, rice paper, other papers and flower petals. There are eight of these, each a constructed vaginal shape on a white board standing on an arc of sculpture stands. On the backs of each are engraved stories of the artist’s thoughts as she studies herself in the mirror over time, beginning as a young girl, expressing confusion, shame, and eventual acceptance and strength. As an example, she writes on one, “I never thought sex was supposed to be pleasurable for me.” Looking at the eight as a group and then studying the slight variations in each can be an enrapturing experience in purely visual terms. Combining this with the experience of reading the stories may be eye-opening and even embarrassing or frightening for some viewers.
Sam Crookston Herschlag displays strikingly beautiful minimalist sculptures in wood, steel and copper leafing. The shapes are elegant, and the contrasts between the deep brown of the wood and the brilliance of the gold leaf enhances the purity of shape, color and texture.
No matter your taste in art, you will surely find something to like in this show of future art stars.

Senior Art Show, Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday noon to 5 p.m., through May 13, Kittredge Gallery, 1500 N. Warner St., Tacoma, 253.879.3701



6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I am one of the artists and some of the information you have here is wrong! Just an FYI.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I am one of the artists and some of the information you have here is incorrect. Just an FYI!

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

To elaborate on my previous comment, here are your exact mistakes:
Smith did not paint couples. They are siblings or friends. Bolles's work is strictly of chronic pain or illness, not emotional problems, as the titles would indeed have told you. If you had gone to the show you would know that the flowers are real. Katz's work has QUOTES from the people who's vaginal portraits she portrayed. This is very clear in her work and artist statement. I would suggest actually going to the show in the future. I have heard from several faculty members in the Puget Sound art department \ that they are very angry about your blog post and this likely did not help your reputation as a critic.

james Hammond said...

I have one question. Why are you commenting on the meaning of these pieces from these artists if you didn't even go to the show? There are so many incorrect statements in your review. Here is the list of things you got wrong:
1. Mairan Smith
"The other two paintings are of couples sleeping together but with their bodies positioned at angles away from each other"
They aren't couples, one is a pair of friends and the other is of siblings.
2. Kiri Bolles
"Each figure could be a fashion model, but for the addition of something strange."
Nope, if you read Kiri's artist statement, you would have learned that each of her subjects were friends of hers who suffer from chronic physical pain or illness. Not anonymous fashion models.
"These foreign invaders represent illnesses both physical and emotional,..."
Kiri's work does not portray any type of mental illness, as listed in both the titles of the pieces and her artist's statement. Another clear indicatior that you did not attend this show.
"One includes real (or perhaps silk) flowers ..."
They are real flowers, violas in fact. You would have seen that if you went to the show. Also, you should know that the subject of this piece is the artist herself.
3. Emily Katz
"On the backs of each are engraved stories of the artist’s thoughts as she studies herself in the mirror over time, beginning as a young girl, expressing confusion, shame, and eventual acceptance and strength."
Wow, the amount of bullshit you spew in this sentence is astounding. If you read Emily's artist's statement, you would have learned that she interviewed a few of her closest friends about self-love and self-care, specifically related to their sexual organs and sexualities. She sculpted the vaginas of her friends and had a quote from each friend engraved on the back of each piece respectively.

The inaccuracy of your review is astonishing, and it's laughable that you consider yourself an art critic. I'm amazed that you've gotten this far with your career as a writer considering the pathetic level of effort shown in your article. I dearly hope that you edit this article and include the correct facts about the art and artists. If you would like more info, I can put you in touch with the artists you cover in your article so that you can act like a real art critic and portray the artists truthfully.

Anonymous said...

Much of this is wrong. You have managed to miss at least one key element of each of the displays you mentioned:
Smith's paintings are deliberately with consent. Each of the subjects have given their consent to be painted while asleep.
Bolles's paintings each depict her subject's chronic illness, which is very specifically not emotional.
Katz's engravings are said by the model for the piece, not by the artist, and explore the theme of masturbation and self-confidence in specific.

All of these are not just key to the understanding of these pieces, but actually perhaps the most important parts.

But hey, you got Herschlag right.

Alec Clayton said...

Hey, Anonymous, if you let me know what is wrong, perhaps I can correct it. - Alec