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For Art’s Sake

By Meg Cullar, News Editor, the Baylor Line

A few weeks ago, I ran into an art professor friend. And it was a very good thing, because he reminded me that the student-faculty art show was currently on display at the Martin Museum of Art in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. Visiting the show is one of my favorite things to do, so I was glad not to miss it this year. I do enjoy seeing the work of the faculty, especially those who are my friends and former professors, but I confess it’s the student work that is the real draw for me. The range of diversity and creativity is always amazing and inspiring.

This year’s student work included more than eighty pieces of art, ranging from traditional drawings, paintings, and photography to sculptures of wood, ceramic, steel, Styrofoam, cast bronze, and several sculptures of fiber and yarnish materials. One sculpture was made of trash bags and jute, and a wall hanging was billed as a “recycled newspaper weave.”

When I first entered the show, the wall of fiber work to the right immediately captured my attention. That’s where the newspaper work was located, but the centerpiece was a fabric work titled Rebirth (pictured above left). An interpretation of the head of Venus from Boticelli’s famous Birth of Venus painting (you may think of it as Venus on the Half-Shell–most people do), the fabric work was made from one-inch squares of hand-dyed fabrics. I can’t even imagine how long it took for artist Isioma Azu to create such a thing! I counted thirty-four squares across, and it was twice as high. The pieces were embellished with strategically placed zigzag stitching. The entire show is a juried one (the works are judged before being included), but this piece was tagged as a “Juror’s Choice,” which I suppose means I wasn’t the only person impressed with it.

Another Juror’s Choice went to a wooden sculpture called Beetle, by Camille Hawbaker, and you can see why in the photo at right. The precision of her work is just stunning. I tried to Google to find out the names of some of the types of joints used to hold the wood together, thinking I would impress readers with my knowledge, but I couldn’t even figure out what to call the joints! Just take my word for it that the intricacy is even more beautiful in person.

I like the way the sculpture suggests a beetle, but isn’t exactly a beetle. The structure of the piece actually alludes to some kind of bones, like a rib cage, which of course, a beetle does not have. This must be either humorous or profound–I’m not sure which. That may be one reason I’m not an art critic. I just know what I like, and I like the Beetle.

The piece in the background of the photo, with the record in the middle, is called Charlie Pride and was produced by Mallory Bean with beautiful wood and plates of metal. I Googled Charlie Pride too, just to refresh my memory, and the likeness is indeed impressive! Also behind the beetle, on the left, is Emily Ross’s delightful chubby teapot not more than six inches high. I just love chubby teapots, and this is a fine one.

Another show-stopper, hanging along the back wall of Gallery I, was the large (maybe six feet tall) oil painting of an elephant called Caged Giant. Also a Juror’s Award, it was painted by Clara Dutton. It’s hard to tell in a photograph (left), but the painting has a lot of texture to it, almost replicating the quality of animal skin. The artist’s choice of the extreme close-up of an elephant turned out to be really interesting. Although it’s nowhere near the actual size of an elephant, you definitely get the feeling of the hugeness of the animal. In fact, the closed-in quality of the painting makes it seem larger-than-life when it’s truly not. How clever those art students are.

Unfortunately for you, the student show is now over. It ended on April 15. So you have missed all this artistic genius on display. You missed the elephant, the beetle, and the Venus, not to mention the nostalgic kitchen sink painting, the fabulous watercolor of a xylophone, a colorful four-tiered bowl, poignant photos, ominous lithographs, majestic works of steel, and dozens of other totally cool things.

But not to worry. Next week is the “BFA Exhibition,” showing the work of seniors who are earning the bachelor of fine arts degree. It runs only from April 21-25, so don’t dilly dally. Get on over to the Martin Museum. It’s free, and it’s fun.

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