April 17 - May 15, 2015
This juried exhibition showcases a rich array of work by twenty-one of University of Houston-Clear Lake's graduating BFA students. Upon first entering the UHCL Art Gallery to jury the exhibition, I was struck by the expansive spectrum of media, techniques, and styles that the artists employed. Ranging from painting to sculpture, ceramics, photography, drawing, graphic illustration, and even furniture design, the selected works present creative or labor-intensive uses of materials, compelling artistic narratives, and diversity in the students' personal backgrounds and aesthetic concerns.
Many of the artists in the exhibition use figurative and representational strategies, turning their attention to recognizable imagery. Brittany Cardena's photograph of the London Guard, Julia Freeman's six-part photographic series, and Corella Fairchild's raphite on paper drawing (humorously titled "Just Curious") all convey an interest in subjectivity and interiority--of bodies as well as psychological, domestic, and private spaces. In contrast, Yolanda Marcano, Heidi Kunz, and Wendy V. Ramirez focus their lenses more objectively on the exterior world, whether natural or manmade. Such representational works also differ in color palette, scale, and mood--Donna McClendon's pictorial atmosphere is as dark and apprehensive as Rachel L. Whittington's is bright and carefree. Some artists, such as Bonnie Hill-Dowdy, depict carousels and other subjects associated with spectacle or entertainment, and others attend to the mundane--for instance, Emma Day's ceramic shoe. Whereas these artists offer viewers their insights into the everyday or experiential, many others conjure fantastical worlds. Meticulously delineated in color pencil, Derek Rochelle's surrealistic portraits (one of which depicts himself) have a theatrical sensibility, and portray people in disconcerting (but no less arresting) ways. Suggesting visions of both the future and the past, Kevin Cromwell's paintings feature cyborgs in various settings, Thanh Nguyen's characters contemplate TV test patterns, Stephanie Tarrer's steampunk vessel floats through its picture plane, and the figure walking along a fallen log in Kellie Duran's forest landscape appears to be from another age. In contrast to these figurative explorations, artists like Joshua R. Garcia explore abstract lines and forms--his sculpture "Limestone Links" expresses a deft and inventive manipulation of material, and in other work he creates topographical fields by carving concentric, amoeba-like shapes out of wood. Garcia and John Channon consider principles of both form and function, respectively contributing a table and raku-fired ceramic cups to the exhibition. In addition, several artists bridge the representational vs. abstract divide. For example, Meredith Sandefur's triptych detailing the strings of a guitar indicates an interest in formal repetition and prismatic color schemes. Joseph Carpenter' and Dave Silverio's dynamic illustrations and Kristal Gonzalez' painting of fabric are similarly both figurative and pictorially abstract.
Diverse as the 2015 BFA graduate work may be, it above all demonstrates a commitment to creativity, technical skill, and a passion for making art.