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MICA Art Walk Part II

May 18, 2013
Part II of my Art Walk experience.
By Michael Farley
This is a small sampling of the work I saw at MICA’s commencement exhibition; things I liked, things I loved, and things that made me think.
 mariam cooper yolk no 2

In the Gateway building, I was immediately attracted to more of Mariam Cooper’s paintings. “Yolk #2″ was another gorgeous bedroom scene. I can’t put my finger on what I love about these so much- they have a voyeuristic quality and there’s a weird disconnect between recognizing the image of a bed but feeling a kind of restless unease. The skewed perspective seems to invite the viewer into the canvas but isn’t exactly welcoming. I also loved “Big Green”, which features these faint boxes on a white background. The whole composition is encircled in a sickly green stripe like a frame encompassing multiple blank canvasses.

wish you were here 4

In the Black Box space, Holden Brown, Jessica Childress, Travis Levasseur, and Kat Schneider collaborated on “Wish You Were Here” (left), a multi-room installation laid out almost like IKEA model rooms. This was hands-down the most ambitious project I saw this year. Viewers walk through a warren of chambers; starting with a travel agency office, then an armchair against a flatscreen-cum-window. There’s a bottle of Windex discretely placed on a shelf. Its the little. It’s absurd details like the Windex that make “Wish You Were Here” so successful. Most of the gestures here aren’t doing or saying anything new (there’s a room of plastic plants in front of a projection of a CGI forest) but do it so very well. I especially liked the projection of the CGI snow-covered mountain range next to a blasting air conditioner. The least obvious (and most unnerving) piece is a dog kennel with a flesh-toned blanket on the floor. On close inspection, there’s a faint image of a woman’s face printed on the blanket.

DeAndre Britton2

Down at the Main Building, I was totally blown away by DeAndre Britton’s assemblages. It’s hard to describe his work, so I’m glad I took lots of pictures. Some pieces exist somewhere between painting and furniture; collapsing the hierarchy of interior decorating into glorious ruin.

I was so struck by how many amazing painters MICA churns out. I think painting can be a daunting medium; it’s so subjective and leaves so much of the artist’s hand visible to critique. MICA reliably instills both the technical proficiency and (most importantly) confidence in young painters to produce impressive work. I was totally awestruck by Emma Fineman’s larger-than-life portraits of ambiguous figures in heavy makeup. Painterly-paintings of painted people is such a good idea it’s crazy. I could’ve spent hours staring at these. Move over Jenny Saville. Seriously.

Another painter I really liked was June Culp. She has to be the most prolific MICA student in the history of the school. Her work was all over campus and it was all so different. I couldn’t pick a favorite, so I chose her bathtub sculpture and painting because it reminded me of George Bush’s bathtub painting but is so much better.

I was super happy to see these paintings by Nicole Dyer. I had seen her work before at Current Gallery’s Odd Logic but was totally overwhelmed by how crowded the show was. Her pieces work much better here with some breathing room. I love her palette, expressiveness, and ability to imply narrative while breaking so many rules of representation. “Please Come In” spills off the canvas and onto the floor with surprisingly un-gimmicky success. I loved all of these.

alicia ciambrone cupid's bath
In the same room, Alicia Ciambrone, a painting major, showed some really powerful sculptures. Her piece “Cheerleader Secrets”  looked like two pom-poms, but was made of VCR tape wrapped around broken glass. It hurt my palms to look at it. It also brought to mind shredded sex tapes or the sexual assault scandals that have become all-too commonplace in high school and collegiate sports. Equally visceral, “Cupid’s Bath” (above) consisted of a baby sitting in “faux-honey (high-fructose corn syrup)” surrounded by dead bees.

Upstairs, Flannery Silvia and Chloe Maratta filled a gallery with collaborative objects, readymades and sketches. I wish I could have spent more time with this work; it was surprisingly opaque conceptually for how inviting and casual its presentation seemed. I’m planning to re-visit this over the weekend!

Andrew Thorp Jerks
The last piece I saw in the main building, Andrew Thorp’s “That’s All Jerks” (above) seemed like a fitting end to my Art Walk experience. The corner-hugging triptych has a cinematic quality to it. I read it as a triumphant goodbye to the twentieth century and its tropes of gender, consumerism and suburban life. Caveat: I probably am just reading that because I wanted a fitting keystone to tie all of the work I’ve seen together. A visual anthem for a new class of talent. But I just realized while writing this that Katherine Stankewicz’s “Well Done” is perhaps the best mascot for MICA’s class of 2013, both in title and content. It’s a precise graphite drawing of a warped ionic columns, which on its own would read as a nod to digital manipulation supplanting classical aesthetics. The drawing, however, is paired with a scorched and melted miniature columnade. The drawing concedes to that which it represents. We could take it as a sign that Rome has burned. The empire has fallen. But I think the one common thread in so much of the work here is that the empire was plastic all along.

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  • Madelaine

    Her honor is no musical square, though. When talking about the new fourth music stage for this year’s fest, she explained that it was going to feature local and regional acts despite being assured by BOPA’s Bill Gilmore that it was to be a karaoke video

  • Sr Roscoe R. W. Duckpin

    artscape has not been the same since they (forward analytics?) ” branded” it into submission. the sound of surprise is dead. packaged like a mre. a teevee dinner world. are we having outsider art fun yet?