Friday, January 17, 2020

Invasive Species

Unusual theme show at Tacoma Community College
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Jan. 16, 2020
"Bless This Mess" by Miles Styler, photo courtesy Tacoma Community College
As themes for art exhibitions go, Invasive Species might be one of the most intriguing imaginable. It’s a horror show in the making — animals brought in from foreign countries that destroy local plants and animals, plants such as kudzu from Japan that overrun everything in their path, species of living things that carry deadly viruses. But according to evidence presented by the artists shown in the Invasive Species exhibition at Tacoma Community College, humans might be the most invasive of all.
According to a collage by Olympia artist Lois Beck called “Caucasian Homo Sapiens,” overpopulation seems to be the culprit. Beck’s collage is a seemingly random mashing together of many photos of people with no apparent structure. It is not one of Beck’s better works, but it makes a point. The fun thing about it for me was spotting local theatrical personality John Munn among all the faces.
One of the more haunting images is a hydrostone and acrylic sculpture by Jeanette Otis titled “Unknown INVADER.” It is a cracked egg with two shining eyes of some frighteningly unknown creature peeking through the crack, possibly an alien from another solar system, about to be birthed.
Miles Styer’s “Bless this Mess” is a hoarder’s doll house crammed with stacks of old newspapers, barrels and boxes and plastic containers of all shapes and sizes, a Christmas tree in the attic, broken furniture and broken lamps made of clay, glaze, polymer, paint and other materials. This piece is fascinating to look at if for no other reason, just to see what all you can find in the house of hoarder horrors.
The prize for the best title must belong to Sharon Styer’s construction, “When the Gods leave, do you think they hesitate, turn, and make a farewell sign, some gesture of regret?” This piece is a wooden box with pictures glued to the outside and an interior overtaken with moss and vines and images of people at leisure at a lake that is being overtaken by its surrounding flora. What’s left, perhaps, when the Gods leave. Maybe their farewell sign was an evil wink.
There are six paintings and a charcoal drawing by Jeffree Stewart, all of which are nicely done — especially the charcoal drawing — but I can’t see how any of them relate to the theme. There are also a number of works on loan from Stewart’s personal art collection, the best of which is a haunting black-and-white photo by Mary Randlett called “Clear Cut: Coastal Hills.” It is a picture of desolation following clearcutting that looks like something seen on an alien planet.
It’s not the greatest show TCC has ever done, but it’s certainly worth a trip to the campus.

Invasive Species, noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, through Feb. 7, Tacoma Community College, Building 5A, entrance off South 12th Street between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma, visitor parking in Lot G. 

No comments: