The It factor
Picture this. You’re visiting an art museum, examining the various installations and reading the accompanying placards. Some pieces are aesthetically pleasing and entice your wandering eye. Some are visceral and jarring, sharply distorting your connection to and interpretation of the artwork at hand. It is in these transformative moments — when art becomes more than just oil on canvas or ink-jet print on paper — where the USC Roski School of Fine Arts’ exhibition It Becomes That finds inspiration.
On view at the Helen Lindhurst Fine Arts Gallery through May 1, this back-to-back pairing of exhibitions features 11 graduating seniors from USC Roski. Divided purposefully into halves, the first show, which was held April 6-17, highlighted the works of Sam Bader, Diana Dukanovic, Brynne Quinlan, Savannah Trevino, Eve White and Whitney Wiese.
The second half of the exhibition, which is currently open to the public, showcases the work of artists Molly Barnes, Woodrow Clark, Soyoon Park, Nicholas Valerio and Timo Yates. Their pieces range from the sweetly nostalgic — Park’s series of jars capture the memory of a childhood haircut — to the nontraditional and progressive — the “discursive aesthetic” of Barnes’ video engagement with cultural codes and identity.
The two parts of the exhibition are meant to highlight “the way in which the artists light and do not light the moment when the original material or understanding becomes something new,” said Erin Connors, communications manager at USC Roski. Rather than focusing solely on the end product, the exhibition is about transformation, gray areas and interacting within a constantly changing space.
While It Becomes That marks the fourth or fifth exhibition for many of the artists, it was an opportunity for them to showcase their work in an interactive and personal environment. When asked what the exhibition meant to him as both an artist and soon-to-be-graduate, Yates said that “many advanced courses at Roski lead to group installations, but it is time and devotion to such a challenging match of work that teaches us the most about installing and collaborating.” Bader, a painter who fuses abstract expressionism with subjectivism, noted that “the show is also about conveying the diverse and dynamic range of talent within the art school.”
Though the exhibition was split into two parts, the shared challenge for the seniors was to find meaning within the pieces they were to put on display. From each artist a different definition of art was produced, Connors said, each highlighting the process “when one thing — material, thought, memory — transforms into, or becomes, a separate and different material object.”
The intent is clear — you can see their fresh and dynamic perspectives and feel the memories they hope to translate. Ultimately, you, being on the receiving end of this spectrum, get the chance to decide for yourself the moment when the original becomes something new. In doing so, it just might become that much greater.
The Helen Lindhurst Fine Arts Gallery is open Monday through Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.