Art is a pain-staking process. Just the other day I entered my painting class clutching a four-foot–by-four-foot canvas, ready to attack my subject. Three hours later, I stepped back from my painting and asked myself the question I fear and anticipate at the end of each class: Was today a good or bad painting day?
More often than not, I find that for each successful painting day I have, there are three bad painting days in between. But this doesn’t discourage me, for if I’ve learned anything over the past several years, it’s that for every step forward, I consequently take three necessary steps back. And in truth, I often learn more from a “bad” painting day than a “good” one. Such is the case for student art, or any art, for that matter, and there is no better way to understand this bittersweet struggle than to view the GW student art show currently being held in the Dimock Art Gallery, in the lower lobby of Lisner Auditorium.
The undergraduate and graduate art displayed at the student art show reflects a period in which students’ youthful optimism is their greatest tool for experimentation and creation. For most developing artists, college is a transitional period in which they can hone their technical skills while producing works demonstrating a range of techniques and subjects. I was surprised and intrigued to find students working with unconventional mediums, such as Patrick Kelly’s “Untitled,” which consists of a complex arrangement of coffee stains on canvas. The repetition and pattern found through the monochromatic coffee stains forms an interesting, delicate composition that could not be achieved with oil paints.
While small in number of works, the GW student art show is big in variety of media and subject matter. What I found most refreshing about GW’s student show is that the majority of works reflect an uninhibited desire to work boldly. Jordan Griska’s hanging wooden sculpture, titled “Copse,” exemplifies this boldness by creating a large-scale sculpture that maintains a rhythm and movement that is not only appealing to the eye, but also reflects a mature understanding of the medium and its capabilities.
The majority of the art on display are not masterpieces; however, they reflect the early stages of artists who evolve and devolve on a regular basis. Furthermore, many of these pieces have already begun to hint at a maturity of style and vision that will more than likely reach fruition in the years to come. The beauty and harmony found in the simplicity of Minjung Kim’s oil on canvas piece titled “Collision of Two Lives” hints at a complex understanding of painting that transcends its medium. By using color, shape, pattern and the application of thin paint, Kim’s work forces the viewer to look beyond the visual aesthetic of her painting to consider the mood and message such simplicity might evoke.
If for no other reason, everyone should attend the student art show in order to consider art that is untainted by history and extraneous opinions.
Learning from the past often may be the best way to excel in the future, but this is not always the case in the pursuit of new, exciting art. Thus, a student art show is the perfect solution for those in pursuit of experiencing art for its originality rather than its historical significance. And who knows; perhaps there is a new Mona Lisa waiting in the wings of the Dimock Gallery, unknown and unassuming, but ready to change the face of art as we know it.