The University of Puget Sound’s Kittredge gallery is currently hosting its annual show of works by seniors that are graduating with their Bachelor’s degrees in studio art. The 19 fledgling artists present a diverse range of media and subject matter. There are paintings, prints, mixed-media works, sculpture, video and installation art. There are creatures and critters and images of the human body that touch upon the erotic. Young artists seem perpetually discontent with the traditional venue of paintings that simply hang on the wall. The result of said discontentment is that the artwork projects from the walls, lies on the floor, hangs from the ceiling and clings to the corners of the gallery space.
Discontent with the traditional square or rectangular surface, painter Jill Sanford makes irregularly shaped canvases that fit together like puzzle pieces. Amber Catford-Robinson, meanwhile, covers small, square surfaces in either solid colors or fluid abstractions and presents them in rows and clusters.
Laura Barrows’ paintings are done as thick as rugs. Her colorful surfaces fall somewhere between pointillist painting and the “gum wall” in Seattle’s Post Alley. Caitlin Bovard’s paintings are executed by traditional methods.
“I use luscious jewel tones with high contrast, referencing figurative styles of the Renaissance,” she asserts.
Her style is akin to that of El Greco or Caravaggio. Her subject matter, however, is erotic – bodies embrace in a warm glow that seems to radiate from the painted surface.
The large photographs by Jennie Noreen also have an erotic edge to them. Designs out of nature such as tree bark, animal spots and stripes are painted on the nude bodies of her models. “Aspen Grove” is a shot of several people’s legs that have been painted to mimic the bark of aspen trees. “Zebras” shows the rumps and thighs of three figures that have been painted in zebra stripes. Playfully witty, these works have great visual presence.
More critters, in a more cartoonish vein, are presented by illustrator Molly Gallagher who depicts Big Foot as a hat-wearing character involved in mundane activities such as standing at a bus stop. Taylor Woodruff’s multimedia and installation pieces incorporate graffiti art as well as cartoon creatures. “Ode to Reality” features a cartoon rabbit rendered in clay. Said bunny is seated in a chair that is set in a shadow box that juts out from the gallery wall. A thought bubble that contains a photograph of a real rabbit is fixed to the graffiti-strewn surface of the box.
Print maker Travis Greene also has a pop art feel in his prints of boxers and wrestlers. Several of his figures are mounted on foamcore and cut out to stand free in a corner of the room. These latter have an uncanny presence.
Jane Cornell’s display is a grid of lithographs made from old family snapshots. The result is a wall of memories; a glimpse into a stranger’s past. David Pendleton also makes use of digital technology to create haunting images that are printed on velvet paper. Landscapes like “Uplifting Earth” hearken to the painters of the early romantic period like Caspar David Friedrich.
Zach Kotel deploys the venerable yet neglected craft of wood burning to do a series of self-portraits. His non-traditional portrait compositions are burned onto wood panels that are stained and varnished to a high gloss.
Sculptors in the group include Alison Grimm whose concrete, steel and wooden constructions pay homage to the decaying, industrial architecture of the rust belt. Skye Pascall, meanwhile, makes clusters of wax ovals, like a clutch of eggs that cover the surfaces of a pair of black platforms. Kayla Gravelle, meanwhile, presents a series of forms like wasp nests or beehives that are stuck in a corner of the gallery. Embedded within these is a sound-emitting device that projects watery sounds throughout the gallery space.
Competing with the audio of Gravelle’s piece is the computerized bleeping of a video installation by Jenny Katz. Katz presents a pair of monitors upon which the Facebook icons for friend requests, messages and announcements are shown with ever shifting numerals. Here, social interaction is reduced to cold, solitary score keeping. Kelby Schweitzer also presents a sub-aquatic video projection.
Time is running out to see the 2012 Senior Art Show. The show runs through May 12. For further information visit www.pugetsound.edu/kittredge.