Thursday, 3 March 2016

ART FRESH: Compelling creations dominate SVA’s 2016 faculty exhibition

BEING INSTRUMENTAL: Artist Jeff Menzies, with his creation "Harp of David."

This is no exaggeration: every single item on display at the School of Visual Art’s 2016 faculty exhibition possesses an arresting quality that pulls you in. The art show, which opened to the public at the Edna Manley College’s CAG[e] Gallery on Tuesday evening, comprises works (by 20 faculty members) that combine exquisite artistry and, in some cases, a design aesthetic that borders on the avant-garde. In short, these are offerings from practising artists at the top of their game.

Mind you, not all the works on show are new creations. Judith Salmon’s minimalist “Forest Mystery 1” and “Forest Mystery 2” (aquatint etchings with chinecolle), for instance, date back to 2008. But the overwhelming majority of the pieces, full of visual power, were created to appear in the 2016 show. And what a bounty – from digital prints and earthenware to oil on canvas and mixed media expressions, and so on.

Here is Jeff Menzies drawing inspiration from the Holy Book for “Harp of David”, fashioned from mahogany, goat skin and gourd, while Hope Brooks turned to nature in crafting “Goat Is – Preservation or Profit,” a mélange of pencil, paint and sand on paper. You are easily won over by the brilliant simplicity of a piece like Norma Harrack’s stoneware creation “Inclining Tower”; Vilya Thomas’ earthenware entry “Curves” and ace photographer Donnette Zacca’s riveting “Visually Poor,” which captures a trio of little boy faces. Truly haunting.

Technique and attention to painstaking detail is what I think of in viewing Paula Daley’s glass-metal-wood “The Eleventh Plague” and Miriam Smith’s “Atonement II”. Then there’s Katrina Coombs’ basin-like “Hornet’s Nest”, the whole thing ingeniously made from red thread and hundreds of fine sewing pins.

Other highlights? Israel Delmonte’s vivid oil painting “Rav 4”; Stefan Clarke’s wildly imaginative “Textures” (etching on paper) and the breathtaking glass-case display of Damaris Mayne’s copper and agate necklace, titled “The Age of Copper.”

All in all, these are conversation starters reflecting on the human condition, challenging stereotypes and calling attention to social injustices, presented in an array of disciplines that allow for full-bodied exploration and powerful examples of the art-making process. 

> The 2016 SVA faculty exhibition is on view at the CAG[e] Gallery, Edna Manley College, through March 15.

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