The Yale School of Art lies beyond my usual stomping grounds. Not since freshman year, when I got lost during an ill-fated trip to Radio House, have I ventured beyond the safe haven of Insomnia Cookies. By the time I arrived at the brightly lit building at 1156 Chapel St., I was very cold and desperately wanted to eat an entire cookie cake. Fortunately for me, “Double Dip” is my favorite party pastime and the name of the MFA students’ painting and printmaking thesis exhibition, currently on view in the Green Hall Gallery.
I hoped to go unnoticed, so I put on a beanie before entering the building. In the center of the exhibition’s first room lies an unfolded coffin, flattened for examination. The artist of the piece is Sara Coffin ART ’16. This shall not go unobserved. A variety of colored tiles strategically adorn the wooden panels, standing in stark contrast to a matte black background. The many-toned squares and long, thin rectangles alternately scream in bright reds and hum in muted earth tones. Much like a jeweler’s showcase or a neurotic first-grader’s pencil case, the tiles are displayed for both admiration and scrutiny. I developed a fine appreciation for woodworking from my brief stint in the Boy Scouts of America, and I found that Coffin’s remarkable craftsmanship was only enhanced by her whimsical decoration of vibrant tiles. By disassembling the coffin — almost emblematic of decomposition — Coffin seems, paradoxically, to highlight the beauty of assembly.
The penultimate room of “Double Dip” features the exhibition’s sole multimedia pieces. A video of a building engulfed in flames loops on a flat-screen television; firefighters examine the scene as they wait for the blaze to consume itself. Small silhouettes of different characters appear at the bottom of the screen. A devil dances fiendishly. A voluptuous woman poses alluringly. Bowser from Super Mario Bros. stomps around in furious anticipation for a Princess Peach that will never arrive. The characters are sandwiched between overlapping subtitles, and the words are indecipherable at times. Teto Elsiddique ART ’16, the artist, aligns the incomprehensibility of the subtitles and silhouettes with the futility of the firefighters’ actions. Both man and Bowser stomp around for an impossible hope.
In the exhibition’s final room hang three gargantuan tapestries. They seem like massive pelts skinned from trees by artist Eddie Aparicio ART ’16. The rigid fabric becomes fluid once the air conditioning kicks on, and what looks like the bark of great birch trees flutters in the mechanical breeze. The tapestries tell a story of both chaos and order. Their otherwise natural and organic appearance could only have been created with painstaking care and attention to detail. When I stood up close to one work, suspended from the tall ceiling, it felt as if I were looking up from the base of a giant sequoia. The edges of the fabric extended well beyond my wingspan. From their respective positions, the tapestries act as the points of a large triangle. Standing within the perimeter of the shape, I felt like I was gazing out onto a ghostly, two-dimensional forest.
“Double Dip,” displaying the work of 11 unique artists, is an examination in structure and purpose. The artists dissect, unfold and peel away the layers of their subjects, only to reconstruct them in colorful and often surprising fashions. After perusing the exhibition, I fully intend on double dipping from the Yale School of Art and returning to the gallery. This time, however, I left the brightly lit building cold once more, headed straight for Insomnia Cookies.