‘Out of the Box’ out of this world with talent

Even the extraordinary Salvador Dalí had to start somewhere. 

Last Thursday an opening reception for the exhibit “Out of the Box: New Work from a New Generation” was held at the University Library Art Gallery.

The artists mingled with the public and their fellow students, all while people perused the packed gallery admiring the variety of talent highlighted in the installations.

The exhibition is the result of collaboration between multiple art classes in both the Sonoma State University’s Department of Art and Art History, with Professors Michael Schwager and Mark Perlman co-teaching. The pieces on display were completed in the spring 2013 semester.

“This is a class we started 15 years ago that we co-teach. It’s a different type of class that is taught in the art department, and we knew it needed to be offered,” said Perlman. “It’s more conceptually based, so for most of the students they come in trepidly like they’re not sure what this is. They want to make paintings and sculptures, then all of a sudden it’s about their ideas, foremost.”

The collaboration between the different art classes didn’t end there, for the Curatorial Practice students were also a part of the entire process.

Curatorial Practice students were paired up with two Theory and Practice artists to not only decide which were their strongest pieces for the exhibition, but also to write biographies of the artists and descriptive labels to accompany the works in the show.

Like fingerprints, not every piece on display was alike. Some were disturbing and unusual, while others took a more light-hearted and sometimes comical approach.

Upon entering the exhibition, one of the first pieces to catch people’s eyes are multiple images of the familiar red and blue Obama “Hope” poster made famous by Shepard Fairey. 

The twist of the piece is it isn’t President Barrack Obama in the picture, but rather defeated presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Entitled “Shitt Mittens,” the piece is a commentary on the statements that were made by Republicans during the 2012 presidential election.

“It basically is a comment on the ridiculous things that come out of Republicans’ mouths when put under pressure, or just in general,” said artist Ariel Lockshaw. “Basically it’s a comment on the nonsensical things that politicians say.”

One of the pieces that really captivated the crowd was a chair that was cut up into smaller pieces and reassembled in mason jars filled with water. 

Entitled “Chair,” artist Lindsey Garrison deconstructed a functional object with myriad associations and revived it into something new and definitely original.

Tucked away in one corner of the room was what looked to be an egg entwined in a spider web, entitled “Untitled.” 

Artist Alma Valverde stated the piece was inspired by the shadows in the works of 16th century Italian artist Michelangelo Caravaggio and sure enough, the shadows cast on the wall were intoxicating to look at.

Another piece that was a social commentary was “Juiced Bat” by artist Tyler Busse. A visual pun, the piece addressed the issue of performance enhancing drugs being used in baseball.

“It was some definite trial and error,” said Busse when it came to getting the look of the juiced bat. “It probably took me two weeks of messing around before I finally got it solid.”

It was very satisfying to see the small art gallery filled with numerous displays of visually stunning pieces created by Sonoma State’s own talented artists. 

“Out of the Box: New Works from a New Generation” will be on display at the University Library Art Gallery now until Dec. 12., giving students plenty of time to enjoy the work of their creative peers.