At least once a year, each of the local colleges with an art department worth its salt offers the viewing public the opportunity to come and partake of the visual feast of objects and images produced by the students enrolled in said department. Such an annual exhibit is the equivalent of a music recital for visual artists. So it is that the Gallery at Tacoma Community College is currently running its “Student Art Exhibition.”
TCC art students seem to consistently produce striking work in the areas of printmaking, bronze casting and the ceramic arts. This year’s show is no exception. There is also much to tickle one’s visual funny bone in the output of up and coming draftsmen, painters, photographers and graphic designers.
Large swaths of the gallery wall space are given to displays of drawings in color pencil, graphite and pen and ink that art students have produced in the classroom context. There is a spread of photographs by Jessica Taylor of various human specimens showing off the ink art tattooed onto their flesh. Burgeoning practitioners of the craft of graphic design are represented by the likes of Xavier Lebron and Kara Woodtick who designed the promotional materials for the exhibition itself.
Judging from the prints in the show, TCC is in possession of a remarkable printmaking department. Visitors to the gallery are greeted by a pair of large canvases that are done in proof prints by a variety of students. Portraits of persons, critters and monsters done in a variety of styles are there to meet all comers. Tabitha Stein’s relief print “Witch” is as crisp and concise as a charming old book illustration with its little scene of a witch’s secret room with potion bottles, bundles of herbs, books and a candle emanating rings of light. Malia Smith, meanwhile, with “Jelly Fish,” a relief intaglio, shows a fanciful scene of a deep-sea diver and an undulant octopus. The titular jellyfish is a little fellow in the background.
Bronze castings by Greg Yuckert, Trisure Perez, Jeanette Otis and David Osbon are all remarkable. The gravitas of the medium automatically renders all of its offspring into objects possessed of weight and value. Osbon’s “Buddha Bot” resembles a compact little African god. Chris Nokes looks to be a rising star in the realm of sculpture with his variety of inventive, charming constructions. J. Gordon Rudolph blends sculptural elements with a painterly sensibility in works like “Musical Landscape with Trees”: a tableaux in which metal, spoon-like trees are set against a wooden background done in bands of color.
There is good measure of ceramic work in the exhibit, showing off the talents of the folks that keep the ceramics studio forever a beehive of activity. The sublime, one-of-a-kind quality of the wood fired kiln is evident in the works of potters like Rebecca Smart and Barbara Gabriel Driggers. Rowena Forde’s porcelain Acorns are playful enlargements of an iconic natural form. Kazumi Divers-Cogez makes big bowls by pressing slabs of clay over a dome-shaped form. In contrast, Susan Hudacek’s “Incised Porcelain Bowls” exhibit a very delicate workmanship. Susan Thompson, with “Altered Box,” shows off a careful attention to detail in the great skill with which she works in the medium. Meg Estep Woolf’s “Asian Pagoda” is a charming construction built of thin, slabs of stoneware. Your humble author is represented by a pair of ceramic works including, “Solitary Horseman,” a jumble of raku-fired scraps of clay fused together in a haphazard heap.
There are many surprises in this exhibition of work by a wide array of artists. Space allows us to visit only a few of the highlights here. TCC’s “Student Art Exhibition” runs through June 13. For further information visit http://www.tacomacc.edu/campuslife/thegallery/ or call 253.460.4306.