It’s clear from part one of the Sculpture MFA Thesis Exhibition that the School of Art is not producing a rigidly similar group of sculptors.
The exhibition, on display at the Green Gallery and the Sculpture Building on Edgewood Avenue, features five second-year master’s students’ sculpture work, which ranges from more traditional clay sculptures to entire-room installations.
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Works by Sam Anderson ART ’10 and Miles Huston ART ’10 are in the first two rooms of the Green Gallery. Anderson’s show, “Clout,” begins with a video piece accompanied by a looped, two-voice dialogue. A television screen first shows a tank of murky water into which three objects are dropped, one after the other. The dialogue — between a male and female — is interrupted by a brief break when the female speaker mispronounces “astrally.” When she stops and corrects herself, the viewer realizes she is an actor performing a part.
The observer is forced to sit through the performance again and again in order to make some sense of the dialogue: Even if the viewer turns away from the screen, it is impossible to escape the sound until leaving the room. The effect is successfully forceful.
In the middle of the room, there is an axial progression of eight sculptures made primarily of a kind of modeling clay called Crayola Modeling Magic. The sculptures, lined up one after the other, are mounted either on the floor or on different sorts of pedestals. The first is on a stool, the second is on the floor, the third is on an old, industrial metal table, and the fourth, again, on the floor. The sculpture line develops and builds (literally grows in height) from the first rock and putty object to a life-size, female archer made of white clay. There are smaller sculptures made of the same clay placed around the room, even on the television. The visual arrangement ties together the two distinct elements of the show — the video and the line of sculptures.
Nate Heiges’ ART ’10 exhibit, enigmatically titled “Why is a Gentleman like a Hinge?” is in the lowest level of the gallery. A book made by Hieges contains images of old living rooms, kitchens and salons, accompanied by quotes that might be from children’s books. In the space, which can be viewed from above, there are room dividers with mounted candelabras, rugs, armchairs and other standard furnishings. But they are all strangely colored and even more strangely oriented: A rug hangs from the back wall, and a desk has a tongue-like piece of painted plaster coming out of its drawer. Some elements are stronger than others, specifically two intertwined armchairs on a rug and the rug in general, which holds the space together.
The gallery outside the Edgewood Sculpture Building houses the work of Kate Levant ART ’10 and Alex Da Corte ART ’10. Levant’s show first appears to be an installation of discrete objects, but enough investigation reveals visual and physical connections. There is a black and white grid covering the wall opposite the entrance. There is a black cutout grid hanging from a vertical piece of black wood and draping onto the floor in a pile. There is another large back and white grid on the floor by the right wall that looks like a collage of various smaller hand-drawn grids. The grid collage is attached to the cutout grid by a wire. Another wire attaches the collage to the ceiling through a white tube. A third wire with a frayed end hangs down from the ceiling over two smaller, vertical wooden blocks. Levant’s work is mysterious but purposeful enough that the viewer recognizes a precise and intentional visual movement: There is a sense that information is being transferred through the series of grids and objects on the floor.
It is not easy to put together an interesting and cohesive space, but all of the sculptors in the Thesis Presentation have managed to do so. The rooms are engaging because they are personal without being inaccessible.