Every two years, the Western Gallery shows the work of the faculty of the Department of Art & Art History and Department of Design. This is an opportunity to see what these highly respected mentors of upcoming artists have been pursuing in their own studios over the previous couple of years.
The 2017 faculty biennial features new visions of artists working in a variety of media—painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, installation, kinetic work, mixed-media, book art, and video. If anything connects the 18 artists in the show, it is their “abiding love for the well-made object,” as one of the artists put it, and their deep concern with cultural and political issues. The works range widely, from explorations of the medium and processes of art making to the probing of social and existential issues, such as the complexities of queer and trans gender identities; and from evocations of the mysteries of natural forces to studies of ecosystems and global warming. Here the faculty does not deliver lectures but presents thinking though making.
The exhibition presents a cross section of the present faculty, introduces newcomers, and honors a retiring faculty, Professor Elsi Vassdal-Ellis, with a small overview exhibition of her limited edition and unique book works.
A series of noon talks are presented in conjunction with the exhibition.
“My work comes into being through a great deal of non-linear or associative research, tangential explorations and an abiding love of the object, the well made, properly made, appropriate object. (In that, I leave room for the appropriateness of the immediate, the unrefined and the crude). The form my work takes, and the subject matter I work with are in a looping dialogue. They find commonality in the theme of the solitary figure, a figure from history or myth, engaged in labor. These semi-universal characters out of history, popular culture and collective understanding, serve both as an entry point for viewers, and as a jumping off point for myself into allegories for my own internal struggles and observations.”
Ryan Kelly received MFA in Ceramics from The Ohio State University and BFA in Ceramics from the Kansas City Art Institute.
“I started taking photographs at about 10 years old when I was given a Kodak 127 Brownie camera to take with me to YMCA camp. After working professionally, shooting architectural documentation with larger format cameras, I now use a digital system for art documentation and travel photos, and a variety of folding cameras that use film, plus toy cameras and pinhole cameras I make out of wooden boxes and cans. Much of my current work is shot with Holga Cameras, a cheap plastic camera from China that has quite a cult following around the world. I’m happy to be a part of that cult. I have curated a show of photography at Allied Arts of Whatcom County exhibiting work of Holga photographers around the world.”