Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Similar to Pablo Picasso’s 1937 painting Guernica, protesting the horrific German bombing of the small Basque town, Erb’s Guernica Revisited references untold global disasters of war. Sourcing war imagery from the Philadelphia Public Library’s newspaper archives, Erb photocopied hundreds of news clippings and documentary photographs, which she painstakingly collaged onto paper into the shape of Picasso’s original painting. She then laid silk over the resultant paper collage, tracing and painting the image directly onto the fabric. An American born artist, Erb embraces the ancient Indian technique of silk painting while using it as a non-traditional means to re-create a Modern masterpiece of Western art. Reflecting an increasingly global perspective in contemporary art, Emily Erb’s interpretation echoes Picasso’s timeless and urgent protest against abuses of power.
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Jill Fannon’s work, while not explicitly political, shows female bodies becoming synonymous with their surroundings to the extent that they conspicuously cease to exist. In her darkly funny and gently sado-masochistic photographs, women appear bound by bubble wrap and gagged by groceries. Often disappearing into their surrounds, they literally embody their domestic settings by blending in with the houseplants. Performative acts that ultimately parody identity stereotypes, the female figures in each of Fannon’s images serve as object, domestic slave, and passive victim. The artist seemingly satirizes how real obstacles exist and can stand in the way of individual freedom.
Carving a layered block of Styrofoam by hand and with the assistance of a giant robotic arm, Glover creates a large “acoustic mirror” or pre-World War II military device originally used by the British navy to detect enemy fire across the sea. The parabolic dish reflects and concentrates sound at its center. Playing approximately 30 feet across from Glover’s sculpture is a whistled cover version of the song “War Pigs” by the 1970’s British rock band, Black Sabbath. Originally considered a protest against the Vietnam War, following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the song was placed on a list of “post 9-11 inappropriate” titles distributed by the American media conglomerate Clear Channel. In the gallery, the song functions as a pop musical reference that doubles as a seemingly ironic warning signal. Thus the object becomes an oversized speaker transmitting a sound message to the present viewer’s ear. Yet, it is also part fresco painting and part sculpture and therefore, rather than having one meaning, perhaps it is best understood as a radar device signaling multiple meanings from the near and distant past or somewhere beyond the sea.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Although Elizabeth Hamilton’s work cleverly re-signifies the art gallery as a used car salesroom where “Everything Must Go,” her sculptures also suggest a more emotional reading. Hamilton created a life-size plaster mold of a 1991 Oldsmobile as a memorial to her grandparents who raised her and who gave her the original car. The artist states that she ultimately drove the vehicle to and from the mechanic as often as she drove it to the hospital to see her ailing grandparents. In light of their passing, both the sign and the car become a memento mori- a genre of art that dates back to antiquity and serves to remind us of the fleeting nature of human life.
University of the Arts
While initially understood as an elaborate attempt to catalogue and collect 16,000 fallen acorns, Guy Loraine’s Fuller and Grand Work Table with Ledgers and Twine is ultimately the artist’s philosophical reflection on work and how the mind grapples with any major endeavor. As a Masters of Fine Art student, Loraine discovered process-based art and sought to learn whether or not acorns fall from trees in a spiral pattern known as the Fibonacci sequence. Although quickly discovering they did not, Loraine was curious enough to want to account for every fallen acorn from a particular tree in Des Moines, Iowa (at the intersection of Fulller and Grand Streets) during a designated period of time. Over the course of two and a half years, Loraine numbered, photographed, mapped, and recorded where and how each one of the tree’s acorns fell.
Easier said than done, Loraine’s faithful attempt to document the acorns with scientific rigor proved much more complex than he could have ever imagined. Although some might consider the artist’s process an absurd exercise or a sign of obsessive-compulsive behavior, to him it is a means of exploring an inner dialogue surrounding the value of work— intellectual and physical. The artist relates his process to the fact that everyone tries something new in life and, at a certain point, what at first seems uncomplicated becomes hard. Like anyone else, artists have a choice to give up or to go on working as well and as honestly as they can, despite the risk of failure. Although Loraine states that he has counted his collection three times and discovered that there are 15 missing acorns, his is still not finished mapping the 975 or so that remain.
University of Delaware
Jeffrey Moser’s video appropriation of 16-millimeter original films depicts footage of daredevils jumping out of planes and other adrenaline-boosting acts. Produced by the Ford Motor Company during the 1970s when gas prices soared, an economic recession threatened to eclipse American economic primacy, and stunt man Evil Knievel was considered one of the greatest American icons, such footage was presented to Ford to encourage individualistic behavior. Moser transfers the original footage to digital video and imports it into the computer program Final Cut Pro. Using the software’s available editing techniques, Moser creates a 12 x 9 grid of duplicate frames through which to play the film 108 times simultaneously. However, rather than starting the films all at once, the artist delays the start of each frame by seconds, thus creating the effect of an unfolding portrait of the same film. Projected large on the gallery wall, the repetitious imagery and sound collide to form an ambient and hypnotic sensory experience that casts the original footage in a wholly new and ironic light. American Novelist Tom Wolfe coined the 1970s the “Me decade” in a New York magazine article published in August 1976. While the term describes a general new attitude of Americans towards atomized individualism, it also describes the artist Jeffrey Moser’s generation. As a member of Generation X, his video corollary to Ford’s “Me decade” film footage invariably evokes the specter of the 1950’s Ford assembly line. However, Moser’s artwork also suggests that the singular image of American individualism has been exponentially replaced by a multitude of images already mass-produced and consumed.
Tyler School of Art, Temple University
In her wall-sized drawing installation entitled Permission Granted, Erica Prince presents 35 design modules or “illustrations” excerpted from her metaphorical encyclopedia articulating a strange new world. Like an explorer discovering a new human habitat or a mad scientist recording raw data from experimental research, Prince makes art as an exercise in finding future potential, in which she encourages viewers to participate by reading her notes or spying on her sketches through a golden looking glass. Influenced by ‘60’s design and the structures of Buckminster Fuller, for example, Prince’s drawings reflect her own interest in Pop and utopian architecture. Imagining an abstract taxonomy of new landscapes, retro-building designs, wobbly public monuments, and technological inventions, Prince designates each drawing as an individual glimpse into previously unknown environments. Prince faithfully documents the evidence of detail and variation in this vast prospective place and gives viewers permission to imagine walking among her invented forms.
Wildly colorful and evocative of a land beyond the Mid-Atlantic seaboard, Steven Riddle’s idio-syncratic collages reveal an invented place dec-orated with strange signs and symbols. Imagining his own visual lexicon, Riddle’s work includes such recurring motifs as hands, crown shapes, and geodes. Riddle borrows from this image archive for each of his collaged works. Bursting with figurative and abstract shapes, form and pattern, each composition opens up on a vivid plane where non-specific objects seem to speak in tongues with one another. For example, Dinner Guest(2011) depicts two burning candles and a floating centerpiece atop a black interstellar plane. Plate-like orbs surround the candles, sug-gesting that a table has been set, but one won-ders by and for whom. Perhaps the only aid to guide us to this information is the pair of orange hands flashing the O.K. sign at the viewer in the center of the composition.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Ted Walsh creates realistic, atmospheric paintings of people and buildings in rural, deserted, and semi-suburban landscapes. Drawing upon themes of loneliness and American landscape painting traditions, Walsh’s influences include Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth who both depicted isolated figures in empty public and private places. Capturing psychological and geographic distance, Walsh’s painterly subjects and scenes are non-specific memories and amalgamations of the people he has met and places he has known. Strangely ethereal and devoid of any discernible narrative or particular activity, Walsh’s paintings emanate ambiguity.
Towson University MFA Students
Interactive New Media exhibition as a work of art and curatorial response to Masters of the Visual Universe with individual two-minute videos by:
Yong Jea Cho
Educational and participatory, this interactive video exhibition engages visitors in issues surrounding graduate art education while questioning traditional curatorial practice. The project represents the creative outcome of an intensive curatorial collaboration between the DCCA and 14 students enrolled in the MFA program at Towson University (Baltimore, MD). The DCCA curatorial department asked students to respond to two ideas: what curating can be and what obtaining an MFA represents to them. Each student produced two-minute video responses to the prompt, “MFA?” Students organized this “exhibition as a work of art,” which invites DCCA visitors to stand in front of the green screen as they walk into the MFA Biennial exhibition, Masters of the Visual Universe. Recorded by a computer camera, their image is played back to them on an adjacent wall, appearing “inside” the students individual videos. The result is a virtual exhibition in which, rather than gazing at objects on display, the viewer literally becomes an integral part of the artwork.