Student galleries feel variegated, if there’s a single word for it. Like leaves that grow into different colours and shapes, it’s an exhibition that doesn’t know what it wants to be yet, a showcase that simply brings the best of undergraduate work into the spotlight.
With whatever two cents I have on institutional theories of art and the artworld – I like these spaces, maybe more than museums because of the modernity, the messiness, the fact that I could probably say ten years down the line “oh yeah, I know that guy – we went to school together. I saw his early work way before he became famous.”
This was the thought, the primary impression that reverberated while visiting the Stamps gallery downtown, the glowing letters looking sunny off South Division Street through the rain of an Ann Arbor November: this is the future of art right here, in progress, developing, new.
With expansive media use, the content of the artworks are even more diverse, with much of the form and the subject focused with a modern-day lens and astute freshness. Here, the exhibition highlights a kind of innovation in art by Stamps students, ideas shaped by a digital revolution and the shifting notation that this digitalization is beautiful. The interdisciplinary quality, refined by technology, is seen in Audio Reflection by Maddi Lelli, a sound installation coded in TouchDesigner that forms a hypnotic circle that moves with the inflection of a voice, and The Creative Body by Camille Johnson, a paper maché puppet that uses projections and soundscapes to tell its stories, exhibited before in Detroit and Ypsilanti events.
Glacial Archi-Structure by Juan Marco uses collections of data of topographical structures on glacial recession to create beautiful, geometric representations of information. And Lazy Susan by Rachel Krasnick is a laser-cut and digitally fabricated sculpture, forming a delicate spiral of plywood that doubles up as a turntable.
Many of the pieces also reflect current social climates and the stresses of a particular generation, including artworks such as Tortured Housewife by Beth Reeck, which digitally collages 50s advertisement-esque pictures to explore the constrictiveness of societal gender norms, and Finding Peace by Gillian Yerington, a landscape constructed out of recycled wrappers, so that the viewer is quite literally looking at nature that has been shaped by our waste.
Conversely, much of the art also finds itself in organic expressions, universal sentiments. Others expand the limits of form and material. From Broken Compass by Kara Calvert, which opens up feelings of alienation and emptiness across a cotton fabric canvas of batik dye, to Fold and sew by Grace Guevara, folding and sewing copper metal like fabric, expanding the definition of what fiber could be.
In the end, there’s a lot of interesting work in the exhibition by some incredible students (and many more not mentioned in the review) – innovative, smart, socially-conscious, or even terribly funny – variegated remains the only word I can think of to describe it, a gallery poised on the precipice of change, of what’s new and contemporary, of students still growing and creating. So be sure to check out the Undergraduate Juried Exhibition before December 16th!