A Critical Review of Minnesota State University's Student Painting Exhibit - Essay Example

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The essay analyzes paintings housed at University of Minnesota. Designing an art exhibit is no easy task – one often finds themselves constrained by a wide variety of different factors. Some exhibits might, for instance, only features art by a particular artists…
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A Critical Review of Minnesota State Universitys Student Painting Exhibit
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Prof’s Exhibit Review: A Critical Review of Minnesota s Painting Exhibit Designing an art exhibit is no easy task – one often finds themselves constrained by a wide variety of different factors. Some exhibits might, for instance, only features art by a particular artists, while some others will focus on the development of an artistic movement or even something as abstract as the exploration of a particular theme. Minnesota State University’s painting collection is an even more constrained exhibit, as it must put on displays created by students at the university itself. The exhibit thus has minimal freedom to construct themes or other connections between works of art, and has to, simply select work worthy of being displayed and try to cobble something together from that point. Based on the nature of this exhibit, this essay will comment very little on technical talent in the works displayed, as many of the artists featured in the exhibit are learners, and to simply harp on about technical limitations would be a pointless and probably overly-long personal reaction. Rather, it will seek to identify the underlying choices in the development of the exhibit, and highlight particular pieces that accomplish their goals well within this overriding framework. Upon looking at the collection of paintings housed at University of Minnesota, it superficially appears that there is little coordination between the works of art – and this would make sense, given that the cultivators of the collection probably have a limited pool of art to select from, and the development of themes would be incredibly difficult. A closer inspection, however, reveals that this collection seems to have gone out of its way to highlight many different forms of painting, and to perhaps display the breadth of opportunity provided by the medium of painting, and the breadth of talent available at the university. It does not, thus, harp on at length on any one subject or theme, but skips around, highlighting as many vastly different subjects and styles as possible. The collection thus houses everything from abstract to the incredibly concrete. There might be a slight preference for the abstract side, with more abstract than concrete paintings being represented in this exhibit. One of the many abstract pieces is Elspeth Carlstrom’s, which essentially amounts to a study of line and color, contrasting the muddy pinks and oranges that fill most of the composition with the piquant teal and turquoise that highlights the borders of the composition. There are also two notable works by Gina Hunt, which seem to examine the relationship between color, shape and mass in an artistic composition. Each has a variety of abstract objects that vary widely in shape and color, which gives relative prominence to them within the composition. One thing Gina seems to have struck on quite cleverly is that the interaction between objects in a composition is an essential part of mass – in one work, the objects seem to have no interactions with each other, while in a second it appears that one of them is stretching or pulling a thinner object by its weight. Throughout all of the abstract paintings it is apparent that the students are working on their craft, experimenting to see what artistic principles cause what effects. Along with the abstract works there are also several more concrete works, that seem to be trying to achieve a stylized representation of real things. The most prominent among these is probably Mackenzie Albright’s work, which depicts a red automobile stranded in a desert, and achieves a highly realistic but also somewhat stylized look. Another of Albright’s paintings almost appears to be a silk-screening, which appears to use almost the negative of a sky-scraper to create a low-fi, but simultaneously highly representative work, with a heavy emphasis on vertical lines and drawing the eye upwards and downwards across the canvas. These concrete works supplement the abstract ones to demonstrate the wide variety of effects that can be achieve through the medium of painting. The painting collection at Minnesota State University appears, at first blush, to be a somewhat hobbled together collection of paintings based on what students had created recently. But a closer inspection indicates that there is in fact some significant curation that goes in to choosing which paintings get displayed. This essay focused on the abstract and the concrete, which are both represented frequently, along with everything in between. Read More
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