The 2019 Stamps Undergraduate Juried Exhibition opened amidst great excitement and contemplation on Friday, November 22nd, as most gallery receptions do. The exhibition consisted of over 50 Stamps undergraduate pieces, including both personal and course-related work, spread relatively evenly among each graduating class. I was pleasantly surprised with the diversity of subject matter, artistry, style, and media – which ranged from two-dimensional mediums like printmaking and collage work to three-dimensional and even four-dimensional mediums like embroidery, upcycled materials, and animation. Not only is the this annual Stamps Gallery tradition an excellent opportunity for students to showcase their work, but it additionally bridges the Stamps undergraduate community to Stamps alumni. All three of the visiting jurors, Parisa Ghaderi, Cynthia Greig, and Cosmo Whyte, are Stamps MFA graduates, as well as nationally and internationally recognized creatives.
Beyond the award-winning pieces, a couple of other works piqued my interest after after catching my eye for their emotionality and aesthetic appeal. Anna Cao’s Flowing Water and Falling Spring immediately stuck out for its vivacity, in both its rich imagery and allusions to Japanese aesthetics. From a distance, the serene scenery seems to surrealistically flow together in a seamless fashion, as if painted on one canvas. Yet as the viewer closes that distance, the rippling waters, snowy mountains, and familiar figures setting down water lanterns reveal to be collaged paper elements from different contexts – each vivid in their individuality yet still cohesively merged in dialogue with one another.
Gray Snyder’s Abstract Self Portrait, a monochrome, triptych timeline of the artist’s emotional growth and development, evoked within me a sense of peace yet empty solitude. I thought Snyder’s universally interpretable linear forms, spiraling shapes, splatters, and shadows that seemed to fall across the tapestry were ingeniously effective in portraying emotional transformation and the various stages of grief.
Another tapestry work imbued with the artist’s emotional histories, this one of embroidered, dyed, and woven cotton, was Brook Eisenbise’s Carrying All of This. Each aesthetic aspect of this work was carefully chosen by the artist to communicate her grandmother’s complex experience with her husband’s Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis. Even without reading the accompanying information about the piece, the tension created from Eisenbise’s graphic color scheme, typographic elements, and jostling French knots was highly evocative of stress and human experiences of pain.
This exhibition will be on view until December 15, 2019 at the Stamps Gallery on S Division – I highly recommend making a trip down to experience the diverse, exceptional talent and hard work concentrated in the Stamps student body!