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Student Visions: Show Us Your Stuff II

by Linda Bergstrom

New Visions — students of art are filled with them. Visions of what art itself means to them; visions of their next project; visions of what their life as a future artist will entail. The future is spread out before a student like a newly stretched canvas. During the month of January, the New Visions Gallery Show Us Your Stuff II was dedicated to the innovative and refreshing visions of art students from around the state. The exhibit reminded me of how refreshing it is to be in a gallery where the unexpected greets you the moment you step through the door.

A juried exhibit, Show Us Your Stuff II included works from colleges, universities and art programs from around the state. New Visions’ gallery space is small, making for a lean show that gave me the feeling of wanting more long after I left the gallery. But the sole juror for the show, Bruce Robertson of Salt Lake’s Visual Art Institute, had every intention of offering a smaller showing. And pieces showing traditional methods, or art classroom exercises were not a part of this show.

Upon entering I was confronted by two floor pieces — in the center of the gallery — crying out to be visually devoured. Keith Pisciotta’s large steel piece, “Hold Me Together”, balanced like an oversized silver origami in the center of the floor. At a closer look, the color and texture of the steel came alive with a subtle blue hue, and though the lighting could have enhanced the piece more, every angle created new shadows within the sculpture, and on the floor. Using a plasma cutter, Pisciotta cut lines into the steel, making the piece appear lighter and helping the unique play of light. His inspiration for the piece was a young student he was teaching who was struggling to learn to read.  He created the sculpture as an “older piece and a younger piece balancing each other to make it work”. Both pieces are attached to each other as one in the exhibit.

Pisciotta’s piece shared the floor with” Fill In”, a sculpture by Adam Runkel. Standing over five feet tall, the rusted steel, cut into lengthwise sections and with large pieces of bark attached, stood solemnly overlooking the gallery. A “new vision” of sculpture, refreshing in its use of materials, was rendered here. To simply view it and walk away would be a travesty. This unique sculpture required a savoring linger, from every angle, to best take it in.

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Photography actually dominated the exhibition, though each one was so distinct in style that I barely noticed the dominance. “Repose” and “Revelry” by Dan Tree were so infused with light and texture that they all but glowed. A photograph of his which appeared to be hung upside down was an inspired move and once again proved that this show dared to defy the traditional. Holly Christmas’s black and white photograph,”Sunder,” was another standout. The curve of a man’s neck juxtaposed against a stark white landscape was haunting.

The display of all of the photographs as diptyches, rather than solo pieces, was unusual, but filled the void of wanting more within the exhibit. “Unnatural Light” and “Natural Light” by photographer Katie Brock were rich with nuance and texture. The sublime colors of these photographs were soothing, and the use of symmetry between the two photographs was more thought provoking than expected.

The show was lacking in paintings, but Lian Greenwood’s “Rose” monotype and Stephanie Ross’s “Quilt #2” held their ground amid the photographs and sculpture. Ross’s use of actual feathers within the blocks of the painted quilt added dimension and depth to the painting. Greenwood’s “Rose” could have been two different monotypes, depending on where the viewer was standing; what were swirling pools of color up close, became a budding rose after standing back just a few feet.

Every show worth its weight needs a piece that makes one run to the dictionary in search of its definition. “Costal Supination” by Candice Rigtrup was one such piece. Though the meaning of the title was never fully manifest, the piece was a Rubik-esque photographic tower. Black and white photographs mounted on various sized boxes were stacked atop each other. With a sign shouting “Play With Me” one couldn’t help but do just that, and have a great time doing it. Each photograph was lucid and stark, and a hands-on piece was just what this show needed.

This was more than likely a first show for most of these artists, as it was for Keith Pisciotta. He felt that his experience in this show was “very positive”, and that positive feedback has given him the motivation to move forward with more steel pieces, as well as to enter pieces into other shows. Hopefully the rest of these talented artists will find this show to be the catalyst for them to do the same. Kudos to New Visions for providing a forum for these burgeoning artists, as well as other emerging artists.

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