Blast from the Past: A Confluence of Old Memories and New and Upcoming Artists at the OSU Urban Arts Space
As I walk through a crisp, white-walled space with high ceilings and an assortment of nooks and crannies in its architecture, I become hyper aware of my senses: I hear the echoes of muttered drone voices whispering over one another as they project out of stylized speakers; next I hear the crisp “ting” sound of fingertips hitting an antique typewriter; then the sound of a serious, calm female voice reciting a love letter aloud; also, an array of alarming, sci-fi inspired “beeps” and “buzzes” that seem to be coming out of a large, white old-school spaceship. I sit inside the cardboard constructed ship and am bombarded by a rainbow of flashing lights. For a moment, I mentally leave Columbus —and our entire galaxy, for that matter.
I walk up a staircase and a few more steps until I come across a video of a larger-than-life male face. My gaze meets the man in the video and he seems to be staring with extreme concentration back at me. I try to mirror his gaze of intensity, staring without blinking for what feels like hours until I feel my eyes dry up and wet tears drizzle down my face. I then see three gigantic oil paintings in the vein of the Abstract Expressionists that all have a vibrant, hyperactive palette of neon colors. Next to them I see found wood warped into organic curling shapes, protruding out of a gallery wall. Where am I? In the galleries of the OSU Urban Arts Space, surrounded by over fifty works of art by twenty-one professional contemporary artists featured in Confluence(s): 2011 Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition.
As a veteran employee at the OSU Urban Arts Space (having worked there since its opening in February 2008) I have seen the young gallery go through a plethora of changes over the last three years, witnessing three different deputy directors; over 60 spunky student staff; a conference room converted into a gallery space; and the implementation of a new monthly exhibition series called City Center Gallery. One thing about the Space has remained constant, however; each spring season it holds the Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition for the soon-to-be graduates from the Department of Art at The Ohio State University.
As the title Confluence(s) suggests, the artwork in the Space (covering nearly all of its 10,000 square feet) represents the MFA’s incredibly contrasting contemporary processes and perspectives, which come together in dialogue with one another and culminate in a dynamic, harmonic and multi-layered exhibition. The artists use a wide array of media ranging from interactive sound and video installation, media and film, to the more traditional forms of sculpture and painting, and everything in between. While each artist addresses different social, personal and political issues with his/her individual work, underlying themes of memory and passed time create a pulse or thread woven throughout many of the thesis projects.
Ceramic and mixed media artist Tara Polansky investigates and explores the semiotics and various hidden meanings within old photographs depicting events and portraits of people both unknown and known. Photographer Ashley Moore uses photographs from her childhood to discuss the photograph’s ineffectiveness and inefficiency of recording important moments from the past. By superimposing two images onto one another, Moore creates surrealist images of mystery that expose fictional “parallel” characters and events.
Printmaker Rachel Heberling looks back on her childhood, which marked the end of an era of typewriters and rotary phones. She employs these antique methods of communication from America’s memories as the subject matter for her ethereal prints. Oil painter Emi Inoue uses her paintings, full of Zen colors and simple lines and shapes, as a way to record and track time as well as a way to reveal her memories of important, often spiritual events that exist only in one fleeting moment.
Many of the artists use their artwork as a tool to meditate and think nostalgically back to simpler, quieter moments of both their life and the lives of others. Spend five minutes in Nicholas Bontrager’s 2001: A Space Odyssey-inspired spaceship installation and be transported to an unfamiliar place, far, far away from Columbus construction, work deadlines, midterms and rush hour traffic. For the hour that you allow yourself to meander around and get lost in the galleries with Confluence(s), you can leave the stresses and worries of your life behind.
Confluence(s): 2011 Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition will be on view at the OSU Urban Arts Space until Saturday, May 14. Make sure to stop by the reception on Saturday, May 7 from 6 to 8pm for an opportunity to mingle with the artists, curator and other art-inspired folk. Light refreshments and drinks will be provided. For more information about the exhibition and other programming at the Space, visit our website. Located in the historic Lazarus building at 50 West Town Street, in downtown Columbus. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11am-6pm, with extended hours until 8pm on Thursdays. Free and open to all.
GCAC Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus – in partnership with the Columbus Arts Marketing Association, a professional development and networking association of arts marketers. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at the arts in Columbus.