Undergraduate show: meta, real

The UGx3 Exhibit will be on display in Green Hall at 1156 Chapel St. until October 9.

When I first walked into the UGx3 Auvillar, Norfolk and Art Majors Exhibition in Green Hall, I felt as though I was in the room of a 12-year-old girl.

Two large posters of Harry Styles and Niall Horan from One Direction, pulled from the pages of the fan magazine Tiger Beat, hung on the walls before me. Between two of the most iconic emblems of boy bands, a photograph of a third, unfamiliar face was placed in the piece, smiling at the camera like he, too, is a member of a band. Although I didn’t realize it, this piece by Max Saltarelli ’13, with its vivid, memorable and self-referential twist on familiar symbols, reflected a theme present throughout the entire exhibit.

The works on display at the exhibit are the works of art majors as well as the Yale Summer Session at the Institute for Studio Studies in Auvillar, France and Yale Summer School of Art and Music in Norfolk, Conn. These Summer Session pieces, varying in size and design, are all done on what appears to be slabs of white cardboard. There are abstract designs, pencil sketches of cathedral arches and hazy lakes, and one particularly colorful piece that almost looked like camouflage. I was particularly drawn to a pencil sketch of a lighted lantern in front of a misty lake. The background was so dark the details were mostly obscured. The lantern, however, was left untouched, so the white cardboard shone through, brilliantly capturing the blazing forth of light.

Walking through the gallery space, I realized the sheer variety of the utilized media, from photographs to sculptures to installations to various multimedia presentations. One particular multimedia piece projected a series of colors onto a large plastic doughnut with shapes carved in it, peppering the wall behind it with interesting shadows. There was a beautiful series of watercolors in the second room; they skillfully evoked the contemplative spirit of the pensive girls, using only swooping lines of various thicknesses. Yet another impressive installation was that of Alex Terrell ’14, who has several photographs in the show from her first photography class. Her representations of everyday objects in New York, such as an empty Coke can and coffee cup sitting next to the exposed rebar of a construction site, gave new life to these typically mundane scenes.

“[The photos I chose] are scenes of New York where object gains character from shadows and light,” Terrell explained.

Floor-mounted pieces — such as braided rope so long it might have been plucked from Rapunzel herself — had unorthodox placements and broke up the gallery’s physical space. Each strand of the beautiful 10-foot-long rope was laced with immense skill. The rope left me in awe, its sheer size and technicality emanating a sense of royalty — I didn’t want to go near it. However, as I paced through the gallery, I observed someone stepping directly over it, intruding on what seemed to be the piece’s invisible, regal bubble.

Walking from the first gallery space to the second, I nearly decapitated myself on a carefully constructed clothesline hanging from the doorway, a work conspicuously and confusingly blocking the entryway. In this same room, I was particularly drawn to the everyday objects melting onto the floor like Dalí clocks. A rubber slipcover was laid over the seat, making the chair appear to be gently fading away. As I watched, the cover fittingly and unexpectedly cascaded from the seat, revealing the intact fabric underneath. The chair’s “nip slip” not only gave a glimpse into the process behind the making of the piece, but also expanded the piece’s meaning on a meta level — the seemingly splintered chair melted, more or less, before my eyes.

As with any art exhibition, the Undergraduate Art Show features works that seek to illuminate and make sense of disturbing ideas. The first gallery space featured a large print of a man devouring his own foot by Hannah Shimabukuro ’13, which brought to my mind Francisco Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son” that similarly and masterfully depicted a barbaric scene of cannibalism. Also present was a series of pen and ink drawings of a living room with several severed body parts sitting on a side table, perhaps begging for the viewer to understand the parts before the whole. One of the multimedia presentations playing on a television screen even featured a stomach grotesquely devouring food while music played in the background. These scenes are, however, more thought provoking than downright gruesome, juxtaposing alarming repulsiveness with ordinary life.

Overall, the Undergraduate Art Show is outstanding and worth a visit. Each piece, even if it was created for an assignment, shows a unique and intriguing point of view matched with an incredible level of technical ability. The great diversity of pieces on display also ensures that there is something for everyone — from One Direction-ers to horror story fanatics. As a person who participates in art mostly on an academic level, I was especially impressed by the intellectual rigor behind the creative abilities of these artists.

The UGx3 Exhibit will be on display in Green Hall at 1156 Chapel St. until October 9.

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