The “Varieties of Perpetuation” exhibition currently on display at Studioplex features artwork by 8 SCAD undergraduates that explores themes of truth in contemporary society. While this topic may seem mundane, the quality of work on display is a pleasant deviation from the mediocre line-up typically offered by relatively inexperienced artists.
The first and, arguably, the most fun work in the exhibition is curator McCalla Hill’s Judgement Matrix. This interactive piece requires the viewer to add up five statements about their lives. These are then plugged into a formula and charted on a family versus career graph. Statements the viewer can choose to determine levels of happiness and success in their lives run the gamut, from “Get a master’s degree” to “Never marry and have a wild sex life.” Upon tallying the five selected statements, it becomes clear that they indicate traditionally male versus female interpretations of success. Even the graph’s physical layout is gendered, with career success plotted on the vertical y axis and family success on the horizontal x axis. After determining how their life “adds up,” the viewer is invited to place a blue sticker with their name on it at their point on the graph. While the statements are of course horoscopically vague, the overall consensus among viewers is that the graph is pretty spot on with how they feel about their lives. Hill’s design sensibility, a strong component of this work, creates a space defined by societal expectations (much in the same way as a Jenny Holzer installation).
The topographical landscapes of Andrea Gill’s design-heavy Rice Fields are impressively executed with small points of color that denote landmarks. The maps’ minimal aesthetic makes them function well as simple graphic works.
While Susan Ryles‘ Stainless Steel-etto and Domesticity I were certainly not new in concept, they provided a nice discussion of feminine artifacts. A stiletto cast in stainless steel and a beautifully sewn apron made of aluminum screen, respectively, they contrast common representations of femininity with industrial metals and construction. The emphasis on the materials forefronts not only their weight but also the burden of the stereotypical ideology of “femaleness.” Despite a somewhat tired conceptual basis, Ryles’ exquisite apron is one of the exhibition’s show stoppers.
Gillian Zagorski’s installation of wax filled vessels resembles a thrift store replete with nostalgic 50s kitchen goods and magazine cutouts. Robin’s egg blue colanders, bread baskets, baking pans, and the like float along the wall. Various amounts of wax fill these objects, and sometimes additional items are entombed within. The installation, which reads like the remains of an archaeological dig, illustrates both the personal narrative of the artist and that of a broader feminine culture.
Jin Kim‘s For a Thousand Days I’ve Known You is a short video of a single line that is repeatedly drawn. A stack of 1,000 sheets of paper, each showing the line in the video, lies in front of the screen. Considering its simple motif, the video is compelling to watch. The subtleties of the shifts in the line make Kim’s video the most mature work in the exhibition. It resembles the sophisticated simplicity of Barnett Newman’s zip paintings or the lines of Richard Serra’s sculptures.
G. Scott Raffield combines body parts and muddied yellows and browns to create collages that frankly make me a little ill at ease, but I am pretty sure that was the intention. The human parts scattered in various compositions show legs encased in panty hose and extended arms that appear to be flailing and escaping from their pages. Raffield writes that these works are indeed meant to depict those cast as outsiders by the general public: transgendered performers, homosexual monks, etc. In the way he combines the imagery, Raffield manages to move beyond his subjects’ physical states to express their psychological concerns, as well as those of the viewer.
I found the paintings in Marcia Dietz’ “God’s Presence” series to be quite enjoyable. While I didn’t heed the artist’s statement with its allusions to God’s presence being part of the creative process, I did like the end products: blue toned squares mounted together. Deitz’ works remind me of Jeff Koons’ spirograph paintings, specifically their sense of immediacy. Individually, certain paintings were much stronger than others, but the collection together created an undulating expression of color and material.
Temeisha Quick’s Outside Observing is a lightbox, one half of which is covered by a photo of melting ice. The other half contains the words “Outside Observing” in a simple font. While the work references environmental concerns, it doesn’t get carried away to the point of becoming preachy. Since Quick posits herself as observer, she becomes documentarian as well as critic.
While “Varieties of Perpetuation” is a bit heavy in terms of feminist concerns, the high quality of the work makes this exhibition worthwhile, even enjoyable. I certainly want to remain aware of each of the SCAD students in this show. I’m sure their work will only improve with time. After all, that’s what college is for.