Hovering on the periphery of central campus, a clean if sadly sparse exhibition showcases some flashes of color.
The Yale University School of Art Gallery is currently housing a collection entitled Undergraduate Art Summer 2006 for a brief autumnal interlude. Globetrotting Yale undergraduates flaunt their summer experiences in France, Central America and Norfolk in their art, a pleasant change from hearing it casually dropped in dining hall conversation. The exhibition may feel flat and lifeless, but the works themselves merit recognition.
And therefore Scene presents … Best of Show — Undergraduate Art Summer 2006.
Best covering of white gallery walls: Yale students at Pont Aven in Brittany, France.
Thrown into a month long intensive studio class, students from Yale worked undergraduate professor Robert Reed creating and growing in an “intimate” environment. Budding artist Liana Moskowitz ’09 described it as “basically a 24-hour work schedule” — every day, every night for a month.
The program’s emphasis on process is made obvious in the display; the wall is covered by a thick band of photos containing students painting, creating and showcasing some of their works. The concentration of photographic documentation provides an illustrative window into the experience. Unfortunately, since the display is so focused on the time in France, the remnants of the students’ final products on display seem like a measly collection of small, almost print-like drawings lost in the process. It’s wonderful to see into the experience, but actually seeing the final product in person has an intrinsic value that’s impossible to translate through a photograph.
Best use of cupcake motif over multiple pieces of art: Eunice Cho ’07
Spending her vacation at the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Music and Art, Cho culled from her creations four works crossing over diverse mediums. The most inventive photograph shows Cho dipping her toes into a lake – along with GIANT My Little Ponies! Creepy? Much.
While the cupcakes failed to conquer the Ponies picture, Cho’s next work explores an obsession with body image, juxtaposing a distorted drawing of a female form along with floating cupcakes haunting the page. This theme continues into her other works, collages including images from fashion magazines with the same cupcakes splattered over their forms.
Best “Whoa I just walked into a Zoo in France” effect: Erica Deahl ’07
At the L’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, Deahl worked on graphic design with French third-year students during the school year. Their culminating project was to create an innovative new system of signs for the Zoo de Vincennes, currently undergoing renovations.
The final product is up on the wall of the gallery and seems oddly out of place, perhaps because they’re intended to be signs in a zoo in France. Aesthetically the signs are marvelous, and maybe they’re even comprehensible, but non-francophiles wouldn’t know.
Best success in getting Yale to pay for summer vacation: Julia Hickey ’07
Hickey received the Mary Hotchkiss Williams Travel Fellowship from the Yale Art Gallery for studies in Guatemala. Her painting is the most impressive of the exhibit; the colors seem to be extracted directly from the Guatemalan air. Other studies and impressions of the area flesh out her display, giving the viewer a brief glimpse of the opportunities made possible by the fellowship.
In all, this year’s best could have been displayed more effectively in a smaller space. The overwhelming presence of the naked, awkward white walls makes the viewing experience a less than adequate for accurately showcasing the works.
The variety of works and their prime location in one of Yale’s better modern buildings almost overcome the exhibition’s shortcomings, but the My Little Ponies make the journey to the margin of campus worth the effort. Trust me.