LEWISTON — Sixteen studio art majors at Bates College, including three from Maine, show work from their yearlong thesis projects in the annual Senior Exhibition, which opens with a public reception at 6 p.m. Friday, April 9, in the Bates College Museum of Art, 75 Russell St.
The exhibition runs through May 29. Admission is free. Regular hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, please call 207-786-6158 or visit www.bates.edu/museum.xml.
Senior Exhibition artists are: Christopher Childs, Andover, Mass.; Annie Connell, Newburyport, Mass.; Elizabeth Denham, Essex, Conn.; Sarah Ewing, Washington, Conn.; Kelly Gollogly, Ridgefield, Conn.; Olga Grigorenko, Astoria, N.Y.; Samuel Guilford, Surry; Lisa Hartung and Heidi Judkins, both of Farmington; and Jennifer Lee, Friday Harbor, Wash.; Matthew Reynolds, Mill Valley, Calif.; Cory Sanderson, W. Newton, Mass.; Emma Scott, Philadelphia; Allison Spangler, New York; Emma Sprague, Winchester, Mass.; and Alexandra Strada, Amagansett, N.Y.
Since its dedication, in 1986, the museum has maintained a special relationship with the college’s department of art and visual culture, expressed in part by its support of studio art majors through the annual Senior Exhibition.
As required by the major, the exhibiting students create a cohesive body of work through sustained studio practice and critical inquiry. The yearlong process is overseen by studio art faculty and culminates in this exhibition.
The show includes animated films, documentary photographs made in a nursing home, photographs of nudes shot in the studio and in the open, Photoshopped travel images, paintings and drawings, prints made using a flyswatter on pages from a phone book, collaged prints that play with iconic images of male movie stars, an unusual take on wallpaper, mandala and fashion-inspired spray paintings, and a sculptural installation.
Childs uses charcoal to draw individual parts of the human body, which he then combines into larger-than-life collages. Interrogating our conception of the human body, he says the process “is like putting together a puzzle without having the cover picture on the box to help.”
Connell uses ink and gouache, with limited color, to emphasize line, form and layering. In a process both slow and admittedly obsessive, she exploits the power of gestures and the aggregation of simple lines to bring forth complex forms while creating a sense of uneasy intimacy between viewer and subject.
Denham uses such varied media as acrylics, spray paint, collage and stencil to create a style she terms “pop crap.” Interested in both fashion and the deterioration of manmade structures and materials, she creates heavily layered art that reveals more the longer one looks.
Ewing uses photography to shock and provoke. Her intimate focus on the female body is not intended to address particular questions, but instead is inspired by the process of creation itself. In an effort to push boundaries just far enough, she describes her process as “a conversation about the images as they are being created.”
Inspired by film director Tim Burton and writer-artist Edward Gorey, Gollogly makes animated films out of a hunger to tell stories. An animatic, or film created in choppy animation, her work in the Bates exhibition uses a format intended for children in order to explore the medicalization of emotional states and the expanding influence of the pharmaceuticals industry. She hopes the movie will remind viewers that they “are in control of their own minds.”
In her printmaking, Grigorenko uses ink, a flyswatter and pages torn from a phone book to demonstrate how ordinary objects can be transformed “from the almost imperceptible to the visually active” by the viewer’s perception. “It was within the very limitations of my materials,” she says, “that I found an astonishing, yet subtle world of complexity and variability.”
Guilford’s stenciled paintings are based on the mandala, a sacred art form significant in Buddhism and Hinduism. Employing graffiti, pop culture, spiritual imagery and political symbolism, his work is a means of self-examination and an exploration of what humans believe, value and hold sacred, both individually and collectively.
Hartung manipulates digital photographs to convey the intense emotion that eyes can communicate without words. Images of eyes are arranged to create a visual rhythm, similar to wallpaper. “My goal is for viewers to see a visually intriguing pattern upon first glance, enjoying the repetition of color and shape,” she says. “Maybe they will notice that the wall examines them as they examine it.”
Judkins uses seemingly mundane commercial objects on a large scale. Consumerist objects made of utilitarian materials such as aluminum foil and plastic wrap are designed to pull the viewer in. The intent is to create a beautiful but overwhelming installation whose physical presence encroaches into the viewer’s space, perhaps commenting on “the glut and wealth of consumerism.”
Lee’s photographic collages capture emotional responses to a space. Invoking memories and reactions, her work seeks to present images in new contexts through the incorporation of unconnected images. She is intrigued by the way combinations of “seemingly unrelated images can create new meaning.”
Influenced by surrealist animator Jan Svankmajer, Reynolds uses stop-motion animation within a single set to surface the raw aspects of film, telling stories in a way that predated cinema. “There’s something charming about just barely conveying an effect, movement or structure,” he says. “It exposes the magician’s trick, but showcases his ingenuity.”
Proceeding from an interest in depictions of the human form, Sanderson combines drawing, collage and monoprinting to manipulate advertisements. “I chose images of men that I consider iconic” — gun-toting movie stars — “and poke fun at them by manipulating them to subvert that masculinity,” he says. In a sense, his artwork is anti-advertising, layering images to provoke new perceptions about gender representation.
Scott’s photography presents networks of images surrounding each of her subjects, members of Tubeho, a community of people in Kigali, Rwanda, orphaned by the 1994 Rwandan genocide. These networks are “not meant to create a linear story or to fully encapsulate the subject,” she says, but are instead a collection of snapshots of people living their lives, communicating “what they are like, where they came from and what they see.”
Spangler uses digital and analog photography to capture images of nude models in outdoor settings. Shooting in cold weather caused discomfort for the models that brought forth a sense of unnaturalness, which has become a goal of the work: to evoke a sense of discomfort or dislocation. Using a uniform position for all her subjects, with faces turned away, Spangler wants “viewers to identify with my models as ‘the figure’ rather than a specific person.”
Sprague uses painting to elucidate her close relationships with individuals in her life. She balances quick, confident brushwork with a confidence in subtracting unneeded paint that is as essential to her painting as addition. Her interplay between light and color helps her find the movement and pattern that bring her subjects to life.
Strada’s photography captures the ways that personal belongings can serve as portraits of their owners. Having spent two years photographing at Clover Health Care, a nursing home in Auburn, her images of elderly subjects and their possessions convey such themes as death, loss, memory and adaptivity. “I have no overarching message,” she says — her images are “simply meditations on people.”