Sunday, December 13, 2015

Artist Exhibition: “Dexterity” Student Art Show

After Kevin B. Chen’s talk, I attended the student art exhibition that he curated. The first gallery space, and the one I believed most interesting, centered around body image. I think this is a very under-explored topic in art, not that it hasn’t been in the past, it’s only recently that mass media has begun showing an extreme body image and it's not taboo to talk about it. Of course, this issue affects women more than men and I was glad to see my peers address this issue and help me gain a better understanding of their perspective. I was less interested in the pieces in the second space, they didn’t have a common theme like the previous gallery, thought that was a given since students submitted work individually and not for certain topics. That made the pieces on body image more interesting, though. It’s obviously an issue many artists and the public are concerned with, and creating art about, now more than ever. I really liked the piece on make-up tutorials by Jena Valenzuela. I thought it was so thoughtful and funny how she mocked the newest Instagram sensation. I had no idea how much of YouTube and Instagram now was all about makeup. All of these pieces seemed to stress the artificiality that has become so common in our culture. They also do it from a place of knowledge and you know that it’s this unrealistic image that they put up with daily.
The back space was occupied by a massive papercraft style dinosaur skeleton. It was covered in gasoline company logos, and while I got the joke it seemed like a one-liner. The interesting part to me was the construction. It must have taken weeks to create. Back to the concept, it seemed like the logos were doing such a large sculpture a disservice by reducing it to a joke. However, this also was probably not the intended setting for the piece. Outside an oil company’s office or even placing it at a gas station would have made its humor more poignant in my opinion. Also, I’m not sure if this piece was made by more than one student, furthering how difficult this sculpture must have been to complete. After the artist talk got me thinking, I wondered if the value of this piece lies more in its production and process, like Chen’s miniature paintings. It is funny to contrast the cardboard material with that of an actual dinosaur, using one of the cheapest materials as a substitute for one of the most priceless items in any museum’s collection.
I have been moving more and more toward making video games, and away from the practicing artist that the digital media program is trying so hard to make me. It is nice to see the works of my peers that have the drive to simply make art and I applaud them. Much of the work is better than I would expect and in a gallery context, some works would be on par with practicing artists today.

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