Loneliness and Nature Reflected in Students' Art
some of the depictions of nature—and
the human destruction of nature—in an exhibition of student
art works on campus are interpreted as portending future
scenarios, the outlook could be grim.
Black Widow (detail)
by Man-Ting Chan ’11.
Images of death overlay
picturesque landscapes. Trees of wire and circuit board take
root and grow. Arms and fingers of corroded metal creep across
the floor. Withered thorns and rotted branches populate stark,
“Plantinimis,” a collection of provocative and symbolic works by students in
a senior visual art seminar, taught by Lee Burns, professor of art, ranges widely
in media and materials. In addition to the nature themes, ingredients from nature—coffee,
sticks, dirt and wood—are often used cleverly in the works, as if in attempt
to preserve the very materials that they suggest are being threatened.
is on display in Jannotta Gallery, Hillyer Hall, through
A binder containing the artists’ statements accompanies the exhibition and may provide
some context for the works in the collection.
An enthralling graphite-on-paper
triptych, Tension, by Man-Ting Chan ’11, compels the viewer closer even as its
starkness and loneliness warn of danger. “My art plays upon the subtle darkness
and beauty of human nature when it is stripped down to its most basic form,” she
writes, “a narrative that is as surreal and equivocal as what it strives to define.”
Jasmina Chuck, whose sculpture
The Future of Trees suggests a world in which nature has
succumbed completely to technology, writes, “All of my art is an imitation
of life. Yet as one reflects the world they change it.”
Many of the works in “Plantinimis,” as well as the artists’ statements, attempt
to reflect upon the human condition.
“I strive to make art about universal, yet largely undiscussed or even mundane
aspects of the human experience,” writes Anna Evensta Culver ’11, whose sculpture
Hunger cries of desperation, a mass of papier-maché wraiths screaming into the
maw. “Craft associated with domesticity or everyday life interests me greatly,
as do expressions of loss, longing, or dissonance.”
Culver’s sculpture Spill, among the most intriguing works, suggests an involuntary
expulsion, perhaps through birth—a piece that at once captures the frustration
and purity of the life experience.
Not all the works in “Plantinimis” brush against
dark or foreboding themes (though most do). Dormant,
Buried, Seeds of (Human) Potential, also by Chuck, is a hopeful depiction of a woman sprouting to life,
full of possibility.
The works in “Plantinimis” display the students’ ability
to create art that pries beneath the skin and scrapes at the core of what we
experience as life. Many of their works achieve a fundamental principle of art—to
depict what we as humans are unequipped to utter.