The WSU Shift Space Gallery is hosting a closing reception for six students with divergent perspectives on art this week for Final Friday. The exhibit is a labyrinth-like tour through a myriad of colors, concepts, and layered emotions.
“Finale: BFA Graduate Exhibition” will be the last show at the gallery before the student-centered art space shutters its doors in Old Town for its planned move to Commerce Street this fall.
The whirling works of Beth Post arrest your eyes upon entering the gallery. Five near-life-size portraits capture what she calls “in-between moments,” transitions amid fixed points in time where she has photographed subtle movements from her subjects. The result is a full-scale assault on the retina as the viewer takes in an image that acts more like an echo, coming in and out of focus with each gaze. For Post, the arrangement is largely an exploration of memory.
“I started off with a big attraction to memory and time in general,” she said. “Photography is key to memory. Whenever I think about specific memories from my past, a lot of the time I think about a specific photograph. For example, in memories of my grandmother, I’ll reference a photo more than my mind’s actual true recollection. If you think about real memory, it’s never really that clear, not like a photograph is clear. Adding those two together and mixing them up, it ends up being more like a memory. It’s more like a fleeting moment.”
To create the paintings, Post had some of her close friends model routine poses. She took photographs of them, and then layered two or three of those images on top of each other, painting the results. She said this leaves a flux, a moment that references memory as well as a point in time that disorients the viewer. Her show, she contends, is also subtle commentary on the history of portraiture.
“They are figures,” she said of her paintings. “They are able to stare into you, but you aren’t able to stare back. It relates to the tradition of portraiture. Traditionally, it’s all about the male gaze. You are objectifying the figure. The relationship between the viewer and the piece of art is a really funny thing.”
Michelle Sinclair focuses her pieces on another human emotion: loss. Her three-part series incorporates shapes and colors on large panels that mimic the stages of grief in dealing with death.
It starts off with the dark-hued “Resistance,” next evolving into “Acceptance,” which showcases a black, white and emerald-green thunderbolt-like swath of color hammering into the midst of a crystal-white, ocean-blue ambience. “Surrender” rounds the works with an orange donut-shaped circle flying buoyantly against a sky-blue backdrop.
“I use formal elements to manipulate spaces that function as passageways for the cross-over from one state to another,” she said about the paintings in her artist statement. “The format was chosen to mimic a doorway large enough to provide the viewer with an experience both visual and physical.”
Other offerings at the show include ceramic works by Melody Sears that emulate ornate dresses, idealized views of imagined landscapes by Aaron Rivera, and a view inside the creative process by Abram Howell. His instillation is a comic book artist’s drawing studio, complete with draft sketches and notes of characters, weapons and storylines that often include commentary on racism, religion, feminism and freethinking.
Mike Miller’s exhibit rounds out the display with interactive art. His pieces comment on the intersection between human-made machines and natural objects. It includes motion-censored apparatuses that light up and move as viewers approach.
Post’s comments about her own paintings sums up the overall aim of the WSU Shift Space Gallery and this final exhibition at their Old Town garage space.
“I hope people feel uncomfortable,” she said. “I hope they question why they can’t figure them out.”