Art Review: Expanding Borders

By: Mary Bass, Art Critic

If Olivet Nazarene University were the Pacific Ocean, I would say that the art department is the Marianas Trench. The art department and its inhabitants, the students (with the exception of graphic design classes), abide in the shadowy recesses of Lower Larsen.

The occupants of the art department are somewhat mysterious in nature because of their seclusion in Larsen’s depths. Their feeding habits are odd and inconsistent. They rarely come above ground while there are a myriad of projects to be completed in the department’s art labs. When art majors do appear in common areas of the university, their tired and bedraggled appearance, a result of procrastination and late nights, may bring the shock and alarm akin to that of a giant squid sighting.

Joking aside, the art department is fairly alien to those who have not taken a studio art class. Since it occupies a single, long hallway in Larsen’s basement, it seems appropriate that the title of the department’s milestone of a new art exhibit is Expanding Borders. This is the first annual regional juried art show hosted at Olivet Nazarene University. Olivet often hosts art shows for local artists, even artists from neighboring states.

However, this is the first time the art department’s gallery houses work from several states. According to the art department’s press release, the show reached out to artists in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky, showing 35 works out of over 125 works submitted.

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It’s always a nice surprise to see the Brandenburg Gallery filled with a wide variety of artwork when I walk into lower level Larsen. Because of the large number of pieces, part of the show is also housed in Strickler Planetarium. The center of the gallery space houses several sculptural pieces, while paintings, drawings and more 3D artwork line the walls.

All the pieces, from the photo-realistic self-portrait by Rae Whalen to the abstract work of sculptor Frederic Klingelhofer, were carefully chosen by juror Sergio Gomez. Gomez, an artist, educator and gallery owner, also chose pieces to receive first, second and third prize.

Chelsea Vineyard received third prize for her 3D sculpture, “The Creation,” composed of found objects, as well as a bird, handcrafted from paper.

Second prize went to Paige Mostowy’s installation piece, “Mother and Daughter,” which featured illuminated portraits of the artist, her mother and grandmother. Two telephones set on a table beneath the portraits emitted audio telling the story of the relationships among these three women.

Gomez awarded first prize to Hanna Freemen’s surreal oil painting, “No Outlets,” a circular piece showing an ominous collection of objects in a deep gulf of black space.

“Every time I go back to it, I notice something new,” Gomez noted.

The show will be up and open to the public until Oct. 31. Don’t be afraid to venture into the unknown depths of lower level Larsen and the oft forgotten Strickler Planetarium in order to view the Expanding Borders exhibit and its interesting variety of artwork.

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