@ Riverside Art Museum

October 1 – November 28, 2009

Seven current Art Department MFA students are participating in this exhibition at the Riverside Art Museum.

Nathan Bockelman

Cameron Crone

David Gilbert

Ashley Landrum

Alia Malley

Courtney Oquist

Evans Wittenberg

These students work in various and multiple media including sculpture, painting, photography, video, performance and installation. They each approach their work with a unique voice, conceptual framework and formal sensibility. All of the students in the exhibition are actively engaged with an important lineage of artistic practice and the ever-evolving arena of contemporary art. Any attempt to make more structured ties between their work would be artificial and disingenuous. 

   Nathan Bockelman is a 1st year grad student. His works often manifest themselves as performances, video and sculpture. The work is often concerned with the body, tension, and the absurd. For his participation in this exhibition, he has created an installation of multiple elements including a piece entitled ‘Spinning Neurosis’ consisting of a chair on wheels, a speaker and a motion sensor, implying a degree of viewer interactivity. In the artist’s own words, “My current body of work examines how the viewer’s experience can be manipulated through formal compositions, ambiguous content and fractured narratives. Stemming from minimalist and phenomenological concerns, my work seeks to further complicate the stakes of engagement, raising issues of the handmade, eccentric and process-based practice”. 

Cameron Crone is a 1st year grad student. His work is usually photographically based, working sometimes with video. For this exhibition, he is showing several medium-large photographs taken from a larger series of images he has been creating that depict ‘touch free’ car washes adjacent to filling stations. Along with these photographs, the artist has created an audio CD of recordings from within the car washes. The images are dry and somewhat humorous. They are photographed in a formal manner, thus exalting otherwise merely peripheral architectural structures into monuments of careful consideration. Each of these images depicts structures that perform an identical function on the inside, but whose facades appear quite individualized. The artist states, “Moving around Southern California I always notice the same structures over and over again.  Usually these things are easy to overlook because of how anonymous and ubiquitous they are.  But like all things, when you go in for a closer look you start to see how nuanced and different they are.  What attracted me to photograph these car washes was how little they varied structurally and in the interior, but how the exterior became a strange sort of expression for the person who owned the gas station. The audio recordings are generally monotonous and somewhat violent, but there are moments when an unexpected sound punctures these qualities. This clash between what can and cannot be done interests me in this series.  Whether it is the audio describing something the photo cannot, or the gas station owner trying to make something unique out of a structure that is predetermined, the resulting awkwardness leads to something that is humorous, and ultimately more human.” 

   David Gilbert is a 1st year grad student. His work fluidly moves between sculpture, installation, and photography without a reverence or emphasis toward any notions of a pure medium. His work is often quite subtle, almost disappearing into its environment. For this exhibition, he has created an installation incorporating sculpture and photographs. The work is abstract, but at the same time utilizes everyday, recognizable materials such as paper, string, tape, stickerts, etc. His transformation of these materials is slight, yet precise. Much of the work lets gravity show itself as materials fall and drape. He describes his practice in this way, “When I begin to look at my materials, especially things like thread and paper, they’re so flimsy yet so basic. Even when the materials (such as a stepstool) become more sturdy, the pieces represent very basic structures: four metal legs supporting steps. Thread knotted together to form a net, the most simplistic of fabrics. The flimsiness comes out when other elements of my work collapse or die: a balloon slowly deflates while the bulb in a nightlight burns out.

I like the bodily associations of barebones: all that is left of a body after the flesh has vanished. And I want the experience of the viewer to be bodily, visceral. The pieces are related to the body, and ideally their sense of vulnerability and delicacy will transfer to the viewer. I want to make pieces that speak about structure. Generally, I’m interested in the unstable”.  

      Ashley Landrum is a 1st year grad student. She makes sculpture that sometimes utilizes recognizable, banal, functional, material but transforms it into intriguing objects which don’t comfortably rest in the world of abstraction or representation. The singular work on display in the exhibition is a life size arch-like architectural object entitled ‘Arbor’ through which a viewer can walk.  The sculpture is made of wood and hardware cloth and stands 12’ long by 4’ wide by 7’ tall.  In her own words, “Between opacity and transparency, architectural scale and sculptural scale, structure and experience, my new work walks a fine and wavering line of interests. I have created a bodily volume that utilizes repetition of form and pattern to make an object that vibrates in the retina while physically enclosing the viewer in a deluge of screen, transforming the mundane material into an environment and skin that reveals itself through one’s movement.  Cohesion of details and idiosyncratic flat-footed transitions makes for a more intimate experience of this large and invasive sculpture.” 

Alia Malley is a 2nd year grad student. She makes large format photographs most often depicting the landscape in the Southland.  Her work frequently illuminates a collision between the ‘natural’ landscape with one that is altered, polluted or somehow ‘impure’. However, as images, they are always beautiful. In describing her work, she writes, “I’m interested in the tenuous relationship between the natural world and the man made within the Southern California landscape. The images communicate what our everyday world looks like within a state of heightened awareness. I consider the ‘Southland’ images both records of geography, as well as suggestions of half-wilderness, places where the boundaries of suggestions of half-wilderness, places where the boundaries between the natural and I consider the “Southland” images both records of geography, as well as suggestions of half-wilderness, places where the boundaries between the natural and the material worlds are frequently blurred, and often oblique”. 

    Courtney Oquist is a 2nd year grad student. Her work is often painting, shown in groups, both representational and abstract. Her installations, like her subject matter, are playful and interchangeable. For this exhibition, she is exhibiting both painting and drawing in an installation entitled, “The Products of Mental Activity”.  She says this about her work: “My artwork explores the expanses of feminine excess, themes of escapism, and the oddities and euphemisms in a domesticated society. I am interested in delving into the fantasies and fears, as well as exploring the cliches that enliven a domestic culture. My interpretation of popular culture informs these works with common images, patterns, symbols, and references. The works are alluring and theatrical in nature, ranging in dramatic intensity everywhere from a quiet soliloquy to a grand finale”. 

Evans Wittenberg is a 2nd year grad student. He works with photography, sometimes large images with a one-to-one relationship with the object being depicted. For his participation in this exhibition, he has created a site-specific photograph, depicting the adjacent area in the gallery to which the photograph will be shown. This simple act serves to both activate the otherwise ‘neutral’ space of the museum’s floor and walls, as well as activate the photograph as both an image and an object. The artist describes his work as, “both indexes and objects. The object qualities of a large photograph are greater and more complex than for a small one. It’s scale and/or situation may introduce temporal elements into the act of viewing. From a single vantage it may not be possible to see a large photograph in its entirety; i.e. the distance required to see detail prohibits a view of the whole. “