Friday, April 10, 2009

'Environments, Archetypes and Images of Trauma': 2009 Student Art Exhibition at Washington College

Chestertown, MD — The Washington College Department of Art and Art History's 2009 Student Art Exhibition, "Environments, Archetypes and Images of Trauma," will open with a reception in the Constance Stuart Larrabee Arts Center on Thursday, April 16, from 5-7 p.m. The exhibition will be on view weekdays through May 1, from 1 to 4 p.m. daily.

The show's highlight is an exhibition of Senior Capstone Experiences by graduating art majors Aliina Lahti, Corinne Saul and Maria Taylor.

Also on display are works by both advanced and beginning students of various studio divisions such as photography, drawing, ceramics, video art, painting and design.

"Three large-scale multimedia installations included in the 2009 Senior Capstone Experience Exhibition explore issues ranging from the disappearance of natural environments, to medical alteration of identity, to meditation on our growing exposure and indifference to images of traumatic events," said Assistant Professor of Studio Art Monika Weiss, who curated the exhibition. "Although each installation was created with a specific conceptual focus, the works in the exhibition share an aesthetic approach that favors delicacy and attention to the small, the humble and the poetic, while tackling the ethical."

"Fragile," a three-dimensional installation by Aliina Lahti, is composed of natural materials found in the environment, as well as a sculptural form, inspired by the Earth's atmosphere and created with plaster and string. The planet's continents are fashioned from newspaper clippings about global environmental concerns. The installation's fragile elements gathered from nature (twigs, tree branches, etc.) are juxtaposed with projected images of industrial sites. The work instills in the viewer a feeling of subtle urgency. As the artist herself put it, "The delicacy of this piece exemplifies the tenuous condition of the Earth's fragile environment and the state of human beings within it."

"Side Effects May Include...," a photographic and sculptural installation by Corinne Saul, examines society's obsession with medications, specifically antidepressants and their role in reinventing, altering and damaging personal identity. Positioned close to the floor level and displayed as one long line, the 20 black and white photographs of Saul's face represent the artist holding a mask. Saul's self-shot photographs present various stages of blending or merging her real face with the artificial contours of the mask. "The installation examines the emotions hidden behind antidepressants and the mesh of reality and non-reality of the mask," Saul noted, adding that her work hopefully "challenges viewers to re-examine their own lives and what masks they use in day-to-day life."

Maria Taylor's "Fragments" is an installation made up of 36 charcoal and pencil drawings. The pictures offer extreme close-ups of fragments from selected images currently found in American newspapers — depicting events in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Korea. The result is an exploration of how everyday news depicts suffering. "By replicating images of trauma and suffering shown by the press and in the media, my project focuses on the act of exploiting the victims of tragic events as figures in elegant photographs," Taylor explained. Her goal is to desconstruct this aesthetic-yet-distancing approach to the suffering of others in faraway corners of the globe. "Perhaps empathy begins with taking a closer look."

Admission to "Environments, Archetypes and Images of Trauma" is free and open to public.

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