This year's Art Apprentice Show, titled "Four Ways to Break Someone's Heart," featured the work of four St. Olaf art majors from the class of 2007. The four selected apprentices developed mixed-media pieces to capture that which pulls strongly at their hearts, producing what Jill Ewald, director of the Flaten Art Museum, called a "cohesive show that plays to the strength of each of the artists' pieces."
The emotionally weighty art featured Kehoe imposing five-foot portrayal of Mike Tyson, whose repeated image spray-painted onto plywood was certainly intimidating.
The Art Apprentice Talk featuring Kehoe and Gramdorf unlocked the emotional mysteries of their newest work. In a very honest and candid session, Rebecca and Brian spoke of the work they had created over the past semester and installed in the gallery this January.
Gramdorf began her talk by stating that it is never easy to go one's own road. Indeed it is not, but by immersing herself in the GLBT community here at St. Olaf, she found support and strength enough to embark upon that road.
Gramdorf's pieces intimately link her process of coming out with her artistic process. Because of the strength and pride of her enthusiastic models, they have seemed to Gramdorf as mentors as she herself sets down the path of coming out. Needless to say, she feels strongly attached to each of her models; her own heart is entwined with the soul of each piece.
Gramdorf built up layers of tape and translucent images of her models to simultaneously celebrate how comfortable they are in their own skin while illustrating the struggle of coming out repeatedly to different people. She says that her work represents the constant "battle between the background and the person." Gramdorf has certainly succeeded in creating jubilantly triumphant personal art set apart from the background.
Kehoe introduced his piece with his intention to bring Mike Tyson down to the human level; his "Faces of Mike Tyson" represents the heartrending combination of fear, rage and vulnerability which led to Tyson's tragic fall from athletic superlative. Coping with the "weird world of not being graded anymore"
Kehoe sought not to simply re-create his senior show; he worked with an image in Photoshop, which he pared down, blew up and grided, before hand-drawing stencils on cardboard and spray-painting. He created "an exact map of where everything went" to connect the aesthetics of athleticism with the beauty of art to depict a tragic, and terrifying, hero.
Such a strong show, with the added insight of the Artist Apprentice Talk, foretells nothing but a radiantly successful future for these Ole artists: a future which hopefully involves very little heartbreak.