Last Friday in the Round Room, two senior art students, Angelo Kozonis and Carrie Ramig, presented their senior shows. A culmination of the work done during their Open Studio classes, art professor Mark Holmes described the course as “a term of intensive work and discourse in art.” That intensive work resulted in twenty-eight paintings from Ramig and thirteen sculptures ranging from a foot in height to larger-than-life from Kozonis.
The first to present his work, Kozonis showed slides of ancient statues, noting that figures placed on pedestals were traditionally meant as monuments, outside the realm of common human experience. Pointing to more modern examples, he explained that statues have become more vertical, angling towards the viewer. It was the concept and the evolution of the horizontal line that he considered, “a unifying factor within my work.”
Kozonis first became interested in art through architecture.
“I appreciated how it used strong materials like steel but provided a sensuous element to it,” he said. This theme was present in many of his works, such as “Self-Portrait,” in which chicken wire appeared to be flowing. Another piece, “Modern Aqueduct,” appeared to be made of a bright, flexible metal even though it was actually made with wood and clay.
His sophomore year, Kozonis began to make heavy use of interval spaces, exploring what defines the interior and exterior aspects of form. Kozonis said, “Interval space is a metaphor for a reflective space,” and he wanted “to both engage the audience and interact with the objects.” His sculptures cannot merely be viewed from one side but instead require investigation from all angles, which initially presented a challenge.
“You relate with an object on the basis of scale- but in what other ways can I make use of interval space?”
It was this challenge that led him to begin creating site-specific works. Still focusing on drawing the viewer in and “rewarding them for looking past the basic structure,” Kozonis also started painting segments of his sculptures.
“I started using color in a way that was sort of funny, but also tried to engage the viewer,” he said. “That’s the strength of me, not the seriousness, but a certain sense of funny.” Kozonis’ color was splashed across works that made heavy use of ephemeral elements – cardboard with U.S. mail stickers still visible, paper, rubber, even bubble wrap – things that would otherwise have been thrown away.
At the end of his presentation, Kozonis reemphasized the themes of his artwork.
“I tried to entice the viewer. Many people told me they wanted to nestle in my works, and I appreciated that they could relate that way.”
After Kozonis, Ramig presented her show, “Still in Progress,” consisting of oil, watercolor, and acrylic paintings on canvases of varying thickness and size.
“I began painting because I’m very interested in the space I live in and the world I live in,” Ramig said. “It’s interesting to manipulate that 3-D plane on a 2-D medium.”
Ramig drew her inspiration from her daily surroundings, commenting that she often painted the spaces she had engaged with that day.
“I paint the intellectual discourse of my day — a what’s been going on.” She was especially concerned with how people viewed a space and how it was affected by color.
However, Ramig ran into problems when she discovered viewers tended to get bogged down in literal definitions of her artwork, rather than understanding the larger idea of physical space.
“People would try to recognize a tree, but I wanted it to be about the painting, not the pictorial space.” To do this, Ramig began to work more and more in the abstract, creating an arena to “push the viewer out,” forcing them to study the larger concept. She accomplished this with techniques such as thick paint (some works had a layer visibly thicker than the canvas) and vanishing spaces.
“With vanishing space, there’s no space to rest within the work,” Ramig said. This technique was especially poignant in her painting “Roller Coaster,” in which two colors met at such an angle it was impossible to tell in which direction either moved. She also made heavy use of color juxtaposition. In her piece “World Spins Madly On,” the canvas is dominated by soft shades of blue and green, only to leave the viewer startled with a shock of yellow-green bursting from the lower right corner.
Noting that painting had gone through something of a crisis in the eighties and nineties and had been considered dead by some critics, Ramig discussed the challenges posed by painting.
“Your work has to relate to art as a whole even as they stand alone as paintings,” she said. Discussing the artists that had influenced her, she also commented on keeping uniqueness within her work.
“There was a challenge to incorporate my influences even while maintaining my own identity.”
However, Ramig doesn’t view her work as complete.
“I’m still move through these ideas.”