While most students are gone and campus is quiet, the summer art selection goes up quietly in the Exhibition Gallery on the first floor of Horvitz Hall. The exhibition presents art at Kenyon to summer visitors whose tours and curiosity lead them to Horvitz.
Ellen Manos’ ’18 work, “Kinda Me, Dingy, Warped, and Coffee-Stained,” is the most arresting piece in the exhibition. In this larger-than-life portrait of a gardener, Manos combines realism with just a hint of the magical. Her gardener, depicted in a sketch which is more than seven feet tall, peers directly at the viewer, flower in hand, exuding a playful and earthy sensuality.
Hanging next to Manos’ work on the far wall are two untitled pieces by Matthew Garrett ’18. Grasping hands jut from the sides of the square photographs, offering pieces of fern and mirror to the floating heads of women whose bodies melt into the black backdrop.
Garrett had his models pose in black clothing against a black backdrop to obscure their bodies. This technique allowed the hands and bodies of the subjects to float against a void. His views on identity informed this artistic decision. “I feel that our identities are less self-invented than many of us would like to think,” Garrett wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Instead, they are like photographs. They are shaped by what is in front of them.”
The work of Oscar Dow ’19, entitled “Lait,” hangs directly to the right of Garrett’s, bringing a black/white binary to the space. Where Garrett’s work is inky, Dow’s photography is all about the murkiness of milk against solid white backdrops. The viewer’s eye is drawn, in that sea of white, to tiny snippings of flower petals, blue and pink, floating like cereal would in a bowl of milk or a wine glass. Where Garrett’s work is about obscuration and identity, Dow’s work is about delicacy and fragility in a pristine space.
In conversation with each artist, it became clear that the opportunity for inclusion in the summer art selection would not have been possible without support from the Art Department faculty. Professors gave students information about the show and helped them select their best pieces for display.
“Professor Spaid gave me great advice, which was to push my ideas to the absolute limit,” Garrett wrote. “If you don’t push a creative idea to its absolute extreme, you’ll never know its true potential.”