‘Number Two,’ the current exhibition for the second-year MFA students, is peppered with a variety of media and referential vocabulary. Multiple formats of presentation are employed, as well, giving the viewer a thorny task in understanding the dialogues that the artists have entered.
There appears to be, however, a slight and subtle agreement among a few of the works against today’s all-too-popular theme of aesthetic minimalism and theoretical density. Laurel Frank’s ‘Column for a Low Ceiling’ is comprised of several life-size paper skulls, lovingly crafted from yellow receipts and glossy images of bodies of water, and is a refreshing return to visual complexity.
Morgan Wells’s piece, in addition, seems to be poking fun at the conceit of minimal, architecture-based work by forcing a large circular sculpture, ‘In One Hole, Out the Other’ into a utilitarian role: the structure plays host to several smaller, flat works (many of which are, like the work of Frank, visually rich and colorful), which are hung on two of the structure’s sides. There are also, of course, sexual and bodily connotations of ‘holes’ (both in the structure and in the title) to be considered, especially when directly contrasted with the flat planes of the rest of the work.
Dong Hoon Jun’s series of photographs, ‘Pull,’ ‘Push,’ ‘Float’ and ‘Climb,’ also seems to be coming to grips with various conceits, including architecture, labor and subjecthood. In them, a man (presumably) in jeans and sneakers interacts with various barriers, including walls, ceilings and elevators. His legs stick out of the ceiling of a classroom, or he pushes, faceless, against a sturdy wall. These photographs present an interesting interplay of straight lines and angles, person and place, perpendicular and parallel, especially when the straight lines of his frames are brought into consideration.
Marcus Civin’s piece in the Room Gallery appears to be a three-dimensional paper-and-pencil rubbing of a wooden palette (the kind used to move large, heavy objects with a forklift or palette mover). Fine pencil lines, combined with the airy, blank whiteness peeking out from within the structure and tiny details like drawn nail heads, work together to undermine the heavy structure of the original object. This relationship is especially evident because of the work’s inclusion of an actual palette mover, whose forks pierce through the indicated negative space on the paper structure in a way that is both violent and intimate, and a relevant comment on the juncture of flat lines and objecthood.
One of the most attention-grabbing works in the show is a series of paintings by Grant Vetter. Rich, saturated tones of crimson, beige and purple are thickly layered on several canvases of various sizes. Their shiny, lush surfaces invite touch, exemplified by the obvious ‘do not touch’ signs with every canvas. These signs, accompanied by lines on the floor to delineate acceptable closeness of viewers, are themselves a valid note on the relationship between a viewer and an artwork. Whether this comment was intentional or not is irrelevant.
‘Number Two’ will be open in the University Art Gallery and Room Gallery through March 7.