With any art exhibition, there is the good, the bad, and the just plain strange. The School of Art Undergraduate Exhibition is no exception. The exhibition featured an array of pieces from art classes such as “Visual Thinking,” “Introduction to Painting,” “Basic Drawing,” and a few independent projects as well. The pieces varied from digital photography to sculpture to paintings and each featured its own unique theme. The result was a myriad of pieces that was both overwhelming and stimulating.
While some pieces, such as the photographs on display in the “Visual Thinking” section, showed skill on the part of the artist because of their good lighting and dynamic, interesting angles, they oftentimes left me puzzled, wondering “what is the point of this piece?” The “Visual Thinking” pieces were photographs taken of seemingly mundane, everyday scenes such as the end of a bathtub with an assortment of toiletries lining its sides. One photograph featured a grand piano sitting in an elegant room and a PBR Girl glued to the side of the picture holding up a United States Constitution. I stared at the picture for five minutes trying to figure out what the artist was trying to say to no avail.
There were a few interesting pieces in the display, however. A series of three photographs all seemed to show completely different, unrelated scenes. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that each scene — a garage tool shed, a laundry room and a bathroom — all contained in them a framed picture of an elderly couple. The piece was an interesting play with perception and made me think of the little details that are so often missed in the frenzy of everyday life.
Other pieces stood out because of the strong emotions that they immediately elicited in me. One painting that was part of the “Painting Basics” display was a haunting picture of a girl whose arm seemed to be extended toward the viewer, her eyes pleading and searching at the same time. The painting featured darker colors that added to the overall somber tone of the painting. The painting showed true skill in that the artist managed to successfully encapsulate sadness in a frame.
The most memorable display, to put it lightly, was the independent project done by Ric Hernandez ’11. They featured photographs of young people completely naked wearing face paint à la Marcel Marceau plays a raccoon. When I say completely naked, I mean completely. Looking at the photographs felt like another session of Chatroulette. One photograph featured a young man wearing black eye make-up and a glittery dress, kneeling in between the lower half of two naked men. He was wearing an expression that I couldn’t quite grasp. Pleading? Confused? Sad? Still unclear.
Another photograph featured a couple kissing naked while a man — all wearing white face paint — stood on the side, pouting.
The true gasp-inducing display, however, would have to be the “Basic Drawing” display, featuring black and white sketches of rooms in Beinecke and Sterling libraries, as well as nature scenes of cliffs and hills. Upon first seeing the wall of sketches, I gasped and thought to myself “beautiful.” Despite being sketches from an introductory class, they displayed photographic realism. The most breath-taking pieces were the drawings of the library rooms, which effortlessly captured the majesty of the architecture and design of both Sterling and Beinecke libraries.
Despite the large differences amongst all of the pieces, their one commonality is that each one made me stop and think. Whether it was to ask myself “how in the world is this considered art?” or to enviously admire the skill of the artist, each one inspired some sort of thought, making this exhibition worth checking out.
Though you can always just go to check out the naked people. Your call.