The second week of Senior Art Exhibitions showcases the wonderful works of Gabe Gordon, Halley Snowden, Joey Strella, Genna DeGroot, and Nicole Yoko Dalessandro. Through sculpture, paint, or pencil, these works prompted viewers to enter the artists' minds and to see the world as they see it.
Pictures by Lu Imbriano
Joey Strella's Pretty Flowers
Reviewed by Amy Mattox '17
Joey Strella’s paintings see differently. They inhabit the little space between the eye, what it observes, and what it names. Standing ten feet from the right bay of Zilkha, Joey tells me an anecdote that frames the paintings in his show, Pretty Flowers. In the story, he moves through botanical gardens photographing the plants, and a child stands nearby with her mother. Joey overhears the little girl whisper mommy, why didn’t we bring a camera. And the mom replies that it’s not worth spending your time in a garden watching through a compound lens.
Joey’s work urges us to idle between sight and comprehension. His canvases are irregular and small; the paint is flat, except when it’s not. Floral subjects focus and unfocus from piece to piece, gaining new weight and edge, acquiring a photorealistic method, and then shirking it. His anecdote gestures at the same problem located in the paintings - how do we translate observation into meaning, and how do we do that without substituting physicality for signifier? These paintings answer deftly, with a deceptive veneer, a wonderful sense of possibility, and a floral coat.
Gabe Gordon's RETURN TO: Paradise
Reviewed by Ella Weisser '17
Sit back, relax, and imagine a gay paradise. Or go to The Zhilka Gallery and see Gabe Gordon’s masterful translation of a political statement into an aesthetic triumph. Gordon writes, “Closely, my work contemplates AIDS and its impact on the shaping of queer identity formation, sexual liberation and politics, and its tangible impact on a gay artistic community.” However it would be reductive to imply that this work is purely a political statement. It deals equally with the personal and with the nostalgic and the paintings are beautiful.
Hailey Snowden's mend/unmend
Reviewed by Ella Weisser '17
Hailey Sowden used these machines to make her thesis: a sewing machine, a CNC shop bot, a pencil, a hole punch, glue, and needles. She said, “We don't think of pencils as a mediation between the artist and the product, but a sewing a machine is a machine, and the CNC shop bot is a machine that draws with a mechanical arm just like a pencil is a machine. I was interested in merging those lines.” In her thesis she tackles questions of authenticity and technology by displaying different methods of creation on the same playing field, allowing them to converse with each other. Sowden’s concept is complex and interesting. Her execution is flawless.
Genna DeGroot's Reading the Environment
Reviewed by Danielle Cohen '18
“They find a meaning in relation to one another,” Genna DeGroot says of the animals and charts depicted in her thirteen-piece combined environmental studies and studio art thesis. Each animal is portrayed in front of, next to, or near an unlabeled chart, which, Degroot explains, “has to do with different ways that we compartmentalize our reaction to the natural world.” She goes on to clarify, “The animals are decontextualized, and the graphs are reduced to a graphic form, and they’re recontextualized together.” As the animals and charts interact with each other, mimicking each other’s shape and coloring, the pieces prompt the audience to reconsider how we interpret our environment, in the form of both living organisms and data – and how these two forms can relate to each other. As DeGroot summarizes, the works “show different ways that we try to make sense of the environment.”
Nicole Yoko Dalessandro's Fatso Junior
Fatso Junior shouts at you. Or rather, a friend shouts at you, “Have you seen Nicole’s piece? It’s hilarious and amazing and ohmygod.” From the metallic phrases mounted on the wall to the furry, white sculpture installations descending from the ceiling to the television screen, the piece utilizes multiple mediums to create an experiential feat of kitsch tropes of Asian identity. The wall shouts, “Yoko,” “rice cake,” “sushi,” and “fucker” as furry balls descend down upon the viewer, as if engaged in an identity fur ball. It’s coy, it’s playful. It’s [insert kitten pun here]. Enjoy.
Addendum: Upon request for Fatso Junior, Google retrieves: “Arguably the coolest and most unique device in the Empirical Labs arsenal, the FATSO (Full Analog Tape Simulator and Optimizer) Jr is a digitally controlled analog device that gives musicians and engineers easy access to many of the desirable characteristics exhibited by older tube and Class A electronics and magnetic tape mediums. This two channel audio processor musically integrates frequencies and transients, increasing the apparent volume while keeping tight control over peak levels.”
Seems relevant & perhaps, not at all.