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Student art at SPSCC

Two group projects stand out

“Boombox” cardboard sculpture, a class project. Photo credit: Gabi Clayton

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"The 13th Annual Student Art Exhibition" now fills the gallery at South Puget Sound Community College. 

My first impression was admiration for the audacity and humor of "Boombox," a gigantic boombox made of cardboard with wood screws that are used both structurally and for aesthetic purposes. Immediately upon seeing it, I mentioned to gallery director Sean Barnes that it was too bad it doesn't play, and he said, "It does." There's a cord you can plug into your cell phone and listen to it play music - a brilliant concept. "Boombox" was a class project from Joe Batt's 3D Design class. Sixteen students were involved in its creation, and it was one of two Poster Award winners that will be on the poster and press materials for all of next year's exhibitions. 

The other Poster Award winner was "Cabbage Leaf," charcoal on paper, a giant cabbage leaf drawn in parts on 20 sheets of paper, two of which were newspaper sheets. This one is also a group project. It was created by students in Liza Brenner's Beginning Drawing class. It is like one of Georgia O'Keefe's big flower paintings except it is darker -- much, much darker and ominous looking. Looking at it, one expects to hear Edge of Night music.

"Boombox" reminds me of Scott Fife's big dog sculpture "Leroy, the Big Dog" at Tacoma Art Museum. Barnes said the class was taken to see "Leroy" who inspired the sculpture.

"Boombox" sets the tone for the entire exhibition, which has other big cardboard-sculpture projects including a giant "Green Fly" suspended from the ceiling and a monster "Centipede" crawling onto a bench.

Another immediate impression I had from this show was that there is a big gap between the skill of execution and the originality of ideas. If I were grading the show as a whole, I would give it a "B+" for originality of ideas and a "C" for skill of execution, which is probably to be expected given it is all work by first- and second-year college students. Many brilliant ideas are explored, but technical finesse, especially in the drawing and painting, has a way to go.

To mention just a few works worthy of note:

Ethan Tovani's digital photograph "Rupee Rich" stacks one photo over another with a striking combination of black and white with color. Cropped figures showing mostly hands and knees are printed in gray scale, but they are holding rocks of bright colors. The contrast is exciting.

"Under the Sea" by James Chapman is a collograph of abstract forms that look like leaves and twigs with lovely textures and contrasts of dark and light forms on a medium-tone background.

There are three mixed-media artist's books by Shuyn Wang, Delaney Herness and Daniel Hoferer that tell personal stories in a poetic manner with dramatically striking images.

Finally, there are many fun and funky ceramic sculptures by many different student artists. The one that struck me most was a small ceramic "Forest Crab" by Sasha Friese, a 3D Student Award winner.

"THE 13th ANNUAL STUDENT ART EXHIBITION," noon to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday, through June 14, South Puget Sound Community College, Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia,

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