The second of two installments by Bailey Blaker and Devon Musgrave-Johnson
Taking cues from artists such as Wayne White and Pablo Picasso, Dylan Musler created three 96-inch-by-85-inch paintings that explore the fluidity of relationships over time. For Musler, the process of creating these paintings mirrored her ideas about relationships. “What’s cool about paintings is they go through a lot of developmental stages,” she said. “The paintings aren’t like the original plan; they change. They will look ugly at times, but you just have to push yourself to work through it.” The planning and effort Musler put into her piece paid off, making the potentially grotesque imagery beautiful instead.
To construct What lies under the surface, Kelsey Ewing scavenged wood and metal fencing from behind Horvitz Hall. Her sculpture, which features beautifully sanded tree branches configured into an intricately twisted shape, acts as a commentary on the impact of human industry on the environment. “For this piece, it symbolizes our parasitic relationship with the environment, more so in the past, and how we’ve tried to conquer it,” Ewing said. “Hopefully in the future it’s more symbiotic where we work with nature.” The piece reflects this in its manipulation of color. The bottom half of the sculpture is consumed by charred and blackened wood entwined with rusted fencing. The damage peters out as the branches reach upwards, culminating in several intricately woven, glistening white branches hanging from the ceiling.
In Coaxial Focus, Brooks Barwick juxtaposes the clinical experience of looking through a microscope lens with the delicacy of nature. His encaustic paintings feature nuanced blues, reds and purples that draw the viewer in and capture the way light shines through the thinnest flower petal. Intricately formed, Barwick’s work includes dots and scrapes within the paint to forge a sense of movement. “I’ve been thinking a lot about biological forms, organic forms,” he said. “It’s about cosmic versus microscopic, big versus small.”
Jessye Holmgren-Sidell produced three intricate pen drawings that reflect her perceptions of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Each piece incorporated a balance of white space and extreme attention to pattern. The decision to draw in pen was an easy one for Holmgren-Sidell. “I wanted to use something that would allow me to be equally as fine and detailed and obsessive in my process,” she said. The final product reflects this sense of obsession and the amount of time and effort she put into each element of the piece; Holmgren-Sidell estimates she spent 100 hours on each of the three pieces.
What began as two large hunks of foam turned into a dynamic testament to the way movement affects art. Meg Gardella created her pieces by hacking away at insulation, allowing her movements to dictate the art and form a canvas with intricate yet chaotic detail enhanced by her choices of color. “I used foam because I wanted to be able to make a mark that was palpable and a record of the movement,” Gardella said. “It’s deeper than just a paint stroke.” Instead of employing conventional methods to add neutral colors, Gardella poured Latex paint onto the foam. “The paint is almost like another tool, another medium,” she said.
Constructed from various wooden structures and covered in bright, saturated oranges, yellows and blues, De Pascuale’s sculpture commands the viewer’s attention. Inspired by the playfulness of Spanish architecture, De Pascuale used color and form to invite the audience into the feeling tof the style. “They make these huge, beautiful pink and blue spaces that are supposed to match the landscape,” she said. “I like the idea of making something that you look at that makes you feel like you’re in that kind of space.”
Max Beatty’s first piece derives its beauty from simplicity. Arranged close on the stark white wall of the gallery, Beatty’s ink drawings of whimsical rectangular shapes and forms showcase his attention to detail. Each piece is subtle in both its coloring (black ink with occasional splashes of gray) and its construction (smaller configurations of cubes and squares). Around the corner, Beatty’s second untitled work takes the simplicity of the line and transforms it into a surrealistic three-dimensional sculpture. Thick black metal lines start on the wall of the gallery and move outward into a freestanding structure that invites viewers to walk inside its confounding shape. “I’m trying to make these spaces into these almost habitable drawings,” Beatty said. “It’s a unique experience I think, and I want people to really feel the space that they’re in.”
The ramifications of political and social issues like gun violence and sexual assault on college campuses shrink to an almost comical level in Jackie Arkush’s Legacy series. Sculpted with modeling clay, each of her three pieces depicts rooms that are at once familiar and surreal. “Rooms hold meaning and ideas,” Arkush said. “We can see a room and recognize it and relate to it without ever being there or knowing what has happened there.” In Newtown, CT, U.S.A., Arkush refers to the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting that occurred on Dec. 14, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. The piece takes the traditional scene of an elementary school classroom and transforms it into an eerie landscape lost in time. The small scale of Arkush’s Huntsville, TX, U.S.A communicates the wrongness of minimizing larger issues by showing a holding cell where executions take place. The last piece in the series, Gambier, OH, U.S.A., is the most arresting. To address the issue of rape on college campuses it confronts the audience with a scene that is extremely familiar: a typical Kenyon dorm room.
Arts Editor at The Collegian
Bailey Blaker '18, an English major from Morenci, Mich., was the Arts Editor for the '15/'16 year. Currently she is abroad in England on the Kenyon-Exeter program. She works as an editorial intern for the Kenyon College Office of Communications and is a Kenyon Review Associate.
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