Arts & Culture / Mosaic / April 16, 2008

‘Hook. Ladder. Toilet.’ An exploration of familiar space

The senior art show this week will feature Katie Bell, Aileen Kelleher, and Sarah Hasse. Their colorful work explores the personal space minus the person. The artists’ presentation starts this Friday at six in the evening in the Center for Fine Arts. A reception with wine and food followed.

Katie Bell

Studio Art major with a focus in painting

Bell’s work augments the energy consumption that surrounds us daily.

Inspired from the Shell Silverstein poem, “Skin stealer”, where a man torments a town by stealing people’s skin, Bell decided to explore “interior space” with an element of the absurd thrown in. Her art is about “making an object possesses thing energy or space” she said.

Though Bell’s focus is painting, her works on display from the show feature more drawings and sculptures. She found paint was not working for her. It wasn’t capturing the crispness she was envisioning for her pieces, so she moved on to charcoal drawing. She chose to make her drawings large to capture “chaotic space.” Bell started off just using black and white, and moved on to color and mixed media, including acrylic paint and collage.

Bell noticed that as she was creating she became “wrapped up in this space, [where] the same objects started to occur.” Appliances, garbage, consumption, waste; in her work “the objects are consuming energy,” even “things that don’t use energy were abusing the space.” Bell envisions a common setting for her works. They are all in the same “stereotypical suburban house,” she said. She wanted to focus on the “constant energy zooming around this house.”

Focusing on space led Bell into sculpture. Sculpture “helped to define things going on in space that she couldn’t figure out” with two-dimensional art. Her sculpture too takes normal everyday objects and obscures them, as with the dying plant with an electrical cord coming out of its base that Bell sewed.

Aileen Kelleher

Philosophy and Studio Art major, focus in sculpture

Kelleher’s work is colorful and provocative, confronting us with hyperbolized personal life.

Kelleher’s sculpture was about “relating two objects in a physical way instead of intellectual”, she said. To do this her sculpture took two different paths, the “material” and the “process oriented.”

Kelleher experimented with “confessional art,” that “confronted the viewer with the personal in a public space.” She used images materials from pop culture, which she describes as “gaudy.”

One very striking piece is the large wooden cross covered in images of Britney Spears and sequins. She describes the piece as “sensationalistic.” With this piece Kelleher was questioning the role society has given to Britney Spears. She saw both characters as in a place of martyrdom, each “taking on the sins of a culture”. Spears she said, “Puts it all out there in a way, showing what a break-down looks like in public…. [She] takes the personal and puts it on the world stage.”

Kelleher has received criticism from a few that don’t think what she’s doing is art.

The material side of Kelleher’s work explores color and fabric. Again she takes the private and makes it personal by using her dress-up clothes from childhood, and clothes she found in the Free Store. She chose to use fabric because it’s “something [she] can manipulate.”

One of the pieces Kelleher created is a collection of draping fabric strips hung in a manner that allows the audience to walk inside. Kelleher believes this interactive aspect “is what sculpture should be.” Kelleher found that “creating enclosed spaces is a way to create a direct sensation…you get the feeling of safety…[but at the same time] being too secure almost suffocating.”

Sarah Hasse

Education and Studio art major with a focus in painting.

Hasse’s work is about “rethinking how we see the things around us,” she said. Her style is very controlled. To create her paintings, Hasse takes a shot of an object from her apartment, zooming in so much that the object almost becomes unidentifiable, not due to blur, but foreignness. She then prints out the photo of the object she will paint in black and white on her computer. She uses black and white to allow her the freedom to change the colors.

Hasse uses “neutrals, tans, browns, grays: dirty colors,” that allow her to fix certain colors to images in the painting, unifying the piece.

Hasse uses perspective to abstract her objects. Focusing on shapes and color, she uses “domestic space as a springboard” for her art. Though there are no people in her paintings, Hasse’s art depicts the “spaces and places we create.” Though Hasse’s pieces have the similar domestic theme, she “approaches each painting as a separate world, a space unto itself.”

Hasse said that when she first started painting in this style it was important to know what each object was, and then move on to accepting a more abstracted piece. This was the challenging, “letting go of what the object was, letting [herself] forget about that and focus on the overall feeling of the painting rather than the object.”

Klayr Valentine-Fossum


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