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ISSUE 121 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/2/2008

Senior artists present 'Over the Hill'

By Annie Ashby
Associate Editor

Friday, May 2, 2008

"Over the Hill," the first of two senior art shows on display in Flaten Art Museum, is anything but antiquated. The show features fresh and exotic artwork from a batch of senior studio art majors. In this capstone course, art majors work closely with a faculty adviser to produce their final pieces for exhibition.

The majors have been through countless critiques and discussions, developed their concepts and prepared them for the final installation. The results are sensational.

Studio art major Alex Walton '08, whose work is featured in the exhibit, described the creation process.

"We make completely individualized bodies of work, without an assigned topic," Walton said. "It's often that work you've really been wanting to make, usually in a medium you've been practicing for a while, but you can also try something new."

Walton's work dominates the west wall of the exhibit, a giant spinning paint and collage piece featuring a graffiti-style ambigram.

The ambigram, an inversion of two words in different directions, reads 'life' in one orientation and 'death' in another.

"People tend to view life and death as opposites, which is self-defeating," Walton said. "It's more important to live a life with death in it. My art represents an attitude towards life and death -- but I put my own spin on it."

Another interactive piece featured in the show are a series of colorful teeter-totters. Lisa Skildum '08 created them in hopes that people would put them to use and reflect on their relationship balancing.

"I got my idea from [professor of religion Anantanand] Rambachan's religious pluralism and communities class," Skildum said. "He made a lot of references to teeter-totters and how lots of relationships are like them in that they may never balance. But we can learn to enjoy the up and down."

Skildum compared her work to senior Sean Casey's, in that they both reflect on the digital generation.

"We are so desensitized to what we see," Skildum said. "And in order to fully appreciate my art, [viewers] must use it. That's the functional part."

Michelle Liesmaki's installment also calls for viewer interaction. The viewer is invited to pick up her circular monoprints and spin them using attached rubber bands. The spinning effect blends the simple toys and inanimate objects depicted on one side join with living things on the other.

A shocking installment, featuring 33 black and white photography prints of naked women, was put together by Anya Galli '08. Museum viewers seem magnetized to the boldness of her work, entitled "The Honest Body."

"Nude photographs evoke a range of personal and political responses," Galli's artist statement reads. "The controversy, discomfort and sexualization surrounding images of women's bodies have little to do with our personal, physical realities."

Galli's work definitely reclaims the female body as an empowering image, breaking silences and stigmas associated with nudity. A surreal installment of neon-colored boards holding a TV playing images of whacked-out chess boards invites viewers to attend Loocis Scott's visual art performance adapted from Marcel Duchamp's work. Featuring vocal music, a fish tank filled with laundry detergent, neon puppets, and a hot babe in a silver swimsuit, Scott took his art out of the museum setting and into the public with three shows in the Pause.

Another crazy neon 3D piece was done by Laura Olson '08. A trail of decorated books leads up to a jungle box, where sometimes you can catch bunnies reading poetry, if you're lucky.

As Skildum puts it, "Although all our art is unique, there's one tiny thread that connects us all. I think it's because we've had the same instruction and some similar experiences -- we've been with each other for four years."

"Over the Hill" will blow you away with its stunning variety of artwork. Each piece is so intricate and intense that one could easily spend all day at this show. Viewers will leave in awe of the creative, artistic talent of the class of '08.

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