What happens when you ask nine art students to collaborate on a group show? Everything. This Tuesday, nine of UCSB’s first-year master-of-arts (MFA) students unveil the fruits of their grad-student labors. And the show, cryptically dubbed Yummier/Brainsickly, is just as eclectic as you’d imagine. While the students were still mid-install come press time, we did get a good look at some of the exhibit’s offerings, which range from thought-provoking mixed-media sculptures and installations to nostalgia-driven oils on canvas.
Fittingly, the students (Bessie Kunath, Emily Halbardier, Jae Hee Lee, Jared Flores, Nicholas Loewen, Rimas Simaitis, Ruby Osorio, Tim Brown, and Van Tran) are as stylistically varied as they are technically brilliant. Where Kunath dishes up a variety of intricate and abstract sculptures made from found materials, Flores gives us hyperrealistic, boldly colored oil paintings. (His “Things Don’t Change Much, Do They Cuz?” depicts four youngsters mugging for the camera at Disneyland, flanked by a nightmarish looking Mad Hatter and a jovial Alice in Wonderland.) Elsewhere, Loewen stretches our minds with “Hatch,” a mixed-media sculpture that conjures thoughts of a yolk and seeping egg white. It, like much of Loewen’s work, is the perfect balance of the organic and the oddly discomforting. Similarly, Simaitis’s “Vacuums” speaks to his penchant for detail-filled, thought-provoking installations. In it, six pristine white vacuums with color-coded handles stand in a flying-V formation before a suspended control panel and a mangled mess of power strips and cords, turning a run-of-the-mill household object into an ominous, almost threatening entity.
Not surprisingly, UCSB’s MFA program is designed to emphasize interdisciplinary approaches to art making, which is ultimately what makes Yummier/Brainsickly work. With an eye to the contemporary and a firm grasp on statement making—whether apparent or implied—these nine students are creating works that speak to a variety of subjects and, in turn, work together to provide an impressive look at the future of the art world.
Yummier/Brainsickly opens at UCSB’s Gallery 479 (Robertson Gym, Rm. 479) on Tuesday, May 3. An opening reception will be held from 7-9 p.m. The exhibit will run through Monday, May 11. For info, visit artsite.arts.ucsb.edu