UW News

May 22, 2015

Beach scene, text game, draping still life — and pie — in graduate student art show

UW News

"Still Life (Banquet Piece)" by Krista Schoening at the Henry Art Gallery.

“Still Life (Banquet Piece)” by Krista Schoening at the Henry Art Gallery.Peter Kelley

Creating an art installation piece is usually no day at the beach, except of course when that’s exactly what you’re making.

Like “Palace Pelagic” by Sarah Norsworthy, a seashore-style habitat dotted with oil paintings and found natural objects and a chair at the enclosed center that seems to invite one to stop, sit, and maybe listen for waves. The piece was made from materials, and inspiration, the artist gathered at the Discovery Park beach.

“It’s trying to capture the sense of a whole day, from morning to midday to end of the day,” Norsworthy said during Friday’s press preview, as artists and visitors milled through the gallery. “I was interested in it being like a snail shell — a moon snail shell sculpture — with the landscape spiraling into this interior space.” And indeed, outside becomes inside as you approach, hardly noticing.

The piece is one of many now on view at the Henry Art Gallery as part of the annual thesis exhibition from the School of Art + Art History + Design, by students graduating with master’s of fine art and master’s of design degrees.

The exhibit — offering paintings, sculpture and elaborate design and video projects mixed together in the gallery — will be at the Henry through June 21.

"Palace Pelagic," by Sarah Norsworthy. On display at the Henry Art Gallery, part of the MFA M-Des Thesis Exhibition.

“Palace Pelagic,” by Sarah Norsworthy. On display at the Henry Art Gallery, part of the MFA M-Des Thesis Exhibition.Peter Kelley

Kristina Schoening’s outsized “Still Life (Banquet Piece),” is a huge oil on linen that seems to have flopped down from a museum wall and taken on a wholly different sort of life. The resemblance to centuries-old banquet paintings is not accidental, the artist said.

“I’m purposely quoting that and trying to introduce it into three dimensions, and kind of have it on this spectacular scale where the piece is large enough it could become a tablecloth,” Schoening said. “I like to foreground the materiality of the fabric it’s painted on, that kind of sagging material we usually stretch flat.” A large and languid tulip leads as the big painting drapes outward and down.

Around another corner, artist Maria Rose Adams stood by her brightly colored five-part series “Three Good Things Yesterday,” which she said plays on themes of domestic comfort and domesticity, with just a hint of uncertainty thrown in.

Amanda Sweet discussed her painting “The History of Land,” which not only reflects the farmland her family has had in South Carolina for centuries, she said, but is made of it, too: “The painting itself is from the red clay soil extracted from that land. I made the clay into oil paint.” The process had her adding layers to the painting, then removing them, “also bringing attention to the skeleton structure beneath.”

"The Current Project" by Scott Ichikawa.

“The Current Project” by Scott Ichikawa.Peter Kelley

But painterly art is only part of this annual exhibit. Students graduating with degrees in design were also well-represented.

Scott Ichikawa’s design piece, “The Current Project,” a sort of typographic fantasia, filled a corner with faux-newspaper headlines, t-shirts and an antique device possibly unfamiliar to the young which, if memory serves, is called “a typewriter.”

It’s all for breaking through barriers that keep college students from consuming news, he said: “Students don’t get newspapers and they don’t have television anymore, so how they are consuming news is very different. I’m looking at ways of connecting students with news so they can learn what’s happening in the world.”

“I Wish for an Animal” is a text-message-based role-playing game created by artist Shaghayegh Ghassemian about an imagined village surrounded by a large protected area full of animals. Participants, sent on missions by the master, try to save these animals over three days of artist-controlled gaming.

“It’s actually for bringing awareness of our responsibility toward wildlife conservation,” she said. “People who live in cities don’t understand how choosing between a cup of tea and a cup of coffee makes a difference in the end for animals.”

"Three Good Things Yesterday," by Maria Rose Adams.

“Three Good Things Yesterday,” by Maria Rose Adams.Peter Kelley

In one playing of the game, she said, she unleashed a serial killer on the village, enabling that person alone with the ability to kill. But the more killings there were, the better the animals fared, lacking human interference. This sparked a debate among participants, she said: Should they all side with the killer and thus win the game together?

Abigail Steinem’s “Make Ready Initiative,” filling a corner with orange in the gallery, is both a book and a sort of design for helping designers design.

“When designers leave school they lack a community and a place where they can go and make things and experiment,” Steinem said. “So I designed a service, in this book, to help people no matter where they are. You can go through here and set up your own community and make it fit whatever your local needs are. It helps support their creative potential.”

"I Wish for an Animal," a text-based game by Shaghayegh Ghassemian.

“I Wish for an Animal,” a text-based game by Shaghayegh Ghassemian.Peter Kelley

In a darkened room are Morgan Mangiaruga’s “Surrogates” sculptures — intentionally monstrous mediations on self — and Katherine Groesbeck’s creations of fabric and paraffin and burlap.

Across the hall, Coley Mixan’s two hour-plus video, “Synkhra: Goddess of Music and Pie” played as the artist — its writer, director and chief performer — watched and took questions. She said. “I’m interested in the notion of historically queer feminists and performance art, how to use our own bodies as artwork in a physical way.”

As her video likeness played guitar, danced and engaged in costumed, occasionally pie-related antics, Mixan added, “For me, it’s the experience of just playing and being joyful. You own your mistakes. Failure is the best part of the fall — it’s the way into the creative moment. That and composing the music for the movie. And baking a lot of pies.”

Participating artists also included Matthew Schau Allen, Tim Coleman, Ryan Moeck, Zheng Wi, Lanxia Xie and Kun Xu. The exhibit was organized, and the student artists greatly assisted, by Jes Gettler, the Henry’s exhibition designer and lead preparator.

“Exhibiting at the Henry Art Gallery allows students to learn how to present and install their work in a museum environment,” Gettler said, “It also provides an opportunity to gain valuable exposure to the public and professionals in their field.”