Current Exhibitions

Exhibitions currently on display in the Main Gallery and Gallery 115

Artists

Jay Anderson
Phoebe Barnum
William Burgess
Alison Krenzer
Carter Mackender
Kay Reynolds
Stephany Smith
Autumn Stelmaszak
Jovi Strand

Studio Art and Art Education students in the Department of Art and Design scheduled to receive degrees in May will present their work in the Main Gallery, Outer Gallery, and Gallery 115. Exhibits will feature the best work from their college careers, along with projects developed in collaboration with faculty advisors.

Opening reception for the artists: April 20, 12 – 2 p.m.

Melissa Wilkinson

STATEMENT

This series of paintings relates to my interest in dichotomies: obscuring and revealing, attraction and repulsion, good and evil, the past and the present. Through a tediously crafted watercolor painting practice I seek to make something strange out of the ordinary. I am deeply interested in the interaction of parts and am attracted to the tactile in an increasingly technological and dehumanized time. I appropriate imagery from 19th century naturalist illustrators such as John James Audubon, Jacques Barraband and Elizabeth Gould and pair with superficially sensual subject matter to develop a pastiche that fractures both into the surreal and suggestive. I draw from sensual imagery sourced from internet searches, bodies, fabrics, shells, gems, flowers, etc. in order to open a curio chest that examines the 21st century obsession with all things slick and hollow. The images break from their original sources into fragments, creating a complex visual experience that both irritates and seduces. I paint these images to investigate the slippery definition of both desire and corporeality.

The romantic process of painting allows me to meditate on issues of gender, identity construction and beauty. Though the paintings are initially conceived of using digital processes, they are made employing a very purist approach to watercolor. In doing so, I endeavor to uphold these painting processes while dismantling the elitism with which they are often associated.

Sarah and Phong Nguyen

Sarah Nguyen is a multimedia artist living and working in rural Missouri. Her exhibition, Break into Blossom, is based on a thought experiment: how would the world have turned out differently if the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 had never exploded? In Nguyen’s reimagining, Little Boy turns out to be a dud, and instead of detonating, passes through a cherry tree, lands with a thud, and over the years gathers moss and lichen, where we encounter it today in an artificial pastoral setting in the UCM Gallery of Art & Design, surrounded by cherry blossoms.

STATEMENT

Break Into Blossom is an artistic visual interpretation of the story “Einstein Saves Hiroshima” from the book Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History by Mizzou Professor Phong Nguyen. In the story, Einstein refuses to sign the letter written by his friend and fellow scientist Leo Szilard which, would galvanize support for the Manhattan Project. The project proceeds underfunded, and what would have been a nuclear weapon (the bomb Little Boy) is a dud that, instead of detonating over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, passes through a cherry tree and lands with a thud, rolling and settling, then over the years gathering moss and lichen. The finished piece is a painted, life-size sculpture of Little Boy, surrounded by cherry blossoms from cherry blossom trees (represented in Tyvek hand cut-paper scrolls that hang from the ceiling).

Break into Blossom took a year to create. Every mark on the sculpture and cut on the three 20-foot scrolls, was done by hand. Artist/ sculptor Justin Shaw created the structure of “Little Boy,” which is built to scale of the actual bomb (10 feet). The sculpture is made from contrition foam, and is hand painted and aged with moss and pigments. Sarah Nguyen hand cut the 3-20 foot scrolls and painted the sculpture. The piece has an audience interaction component where there are blossoms available for viewers to write their wishes for the future and place them on the piece itself. These blossoms will be collected for a future piece.

Break Into Blossom causes us to reexamine the past and ask “what if?” The aged, moss-covered and undetonated “Little Boy” is a testament to what might-have-been. We are all aware of living in a time when brash actors or irresponsible leadership could draw us into actions and policies that we will one day have cause to regret. To think and rethink the actions of our past is an important step towards acting righteously and intentionally in the future. The hope is that visitors come away feeling thoughtful about the past, present, and future, and experience a bit of whiplash at the realization that we live in the reality we do, and, just maybe, work towards creating a better reality.