Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spring Forward and March Ahead to Young Contemporary Artists at the Halsey

Ahh, Spring! It's back and bringing beauty back to the Lowcountry. Downtown is a hub of activity, and last night at the Halsey Institute was just one of the multitude of places that people flocked to enjoy the beautiful weather that has finally dawned upon us. The College of Charleston was buzzing with activity with aspiring students touring the campus with their families and being introduced to the campus's life. The Courtyard was filled with flowers, fruitfully blooming and showing off their colorful spirits to the Heavens, as youths meandered casually in the sunshine. The beauty of it all was astounding, and you could almost literally feel time standing still.

As 5 o'clock approached, we made our way over to the Halsey Institute, where they were celebrating the 30th Annual Young Contemporary Student Exhibition. The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art has exhibited many of the finest and most famous pieces found in the world. College of Charleston's Art students compete to enter this annual exhibit and are only invited to participate once a national jury has voted them into the program. This is their first time being shown in a professional setting, and it allows them to feel and appreciate the competitive nature of their field. Skill is not the only tool necessary to succeed, but professionalism, decor, and personal integrity also are integral to their success. Scuptors, painters, photographers, printmakers, and mixed media artists submitted a wide variety of pieces for consideration. Not everyone made the exhibit, but the ones that did were impressive and eclectic.

Here are a few samples of some of the types of art shown in this year's collection:

The first is entitled, "On the Ascendence of Hunting", by Grace Musser. This oil on linen piece was done in 2015 and indulges itself on the obvious hunter vs prey. However, if you notice, it follows the natural life cycle of animals. Whereas, the sloth (?) appears to be stalking a bug, the monkey is stalking him/her. Overtly, the entire frame is covered in a virtual bloodbath, with edges of suggestive death scenes surrounding the event. A lonely heart sits solemnly in the corner, but who is it beating for? Or is it the fact of the eventual ending of the beating heart that leads the question?

The second piece is a self-portrait by Jordan Fowler, done in 2014. Fowler won in another category for another piece, a painting titled "Pinky". In this self-portrait collage, you can see Fowler's attention to detail and significant for this time of year. Considering it is Easter for Christians, it bears noticing the ethereal wreath of thorns surrounding Fowler's head. Chaos seems to crease his eyes, and faces of (who he might be dying for?) are just out of his eyesight to the left side of the collage. Snakeskin, representing Satan maybe, seems to adorn his crown. The intensity of the eyes in this self-portrait appear to exclaim Fowler's hope for humanity, however dire the circumstances may seem in this particular moment.

The third is called "Collision of Like Minds" by Heather Thornton. She created this mixed media piece in 2014. The colorful representation of two minds blending in unison to form a Universe(al) interpretation of shared knowledge is an intriguing parlay into conscious thought and Orwellean "Thinkspeak".

While the collaborative artworks above didn't win any of the awards given out last evening, they were a fine example of the talent and diversity shown in the talented arena of the College's art students. A full list of winners follows. The exhibit will continue to show until May 2, 2015, with all winners on display.

Best in Drawing - Kristin Budak-Haynes - “To My Mother”
Best in Painting - Jordon Fowler - “Pinky”
Best in Photography - Meagan Cain - “Sampeng Lane #2”
Best in Print Making - Sara Wilson - “From the Depths
Best in Sculpture - Lisa Diamond - “The Elephant and its Jewels”
Best in Show - Malcolm Knight - “My Name is Terry”

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