The annual Westmont Graduate Exhibition in early May has reliably charted the upward course of Westmont’s art department while giving its emerging artists access to the walls of the college’s Ridley-Tree Museum — our county’s finest new art space of the 2010s.
When said venue was shuttered in May, the annual exhibit was postponed. It opened briefly to artists and families in August and now continues online at westmont.edu/museum/adjacent. Twelve student artists have created the aptly named Adjacent, with themes hovering around notions of isolation and alienation: signposts of the times.
Spirituality, biblical resonances, and a probing sense of self and artistic voice converge in Alyssa Beccue’s life-size self-portraits. A similar identity-questing buzzes in Julianna Carl’s color-coded portraits of subjects in the throes of grooming.
A grappling with potentially repressive Christian attitudes regarding sexuality and sexual orientation informs work by Cara-Celeste VanNortwick, whose stark nude studies embody women in poses of shame, contrasting the lean nudes-in-nature woodcuts by Jessica Galvan. Aspects of religious art historicism and LGBT+ life are deftly interwoven in Emma Wade’s epic-scaled paintings (though scale, of course, gets lost in the virtual world).
Jordan Marshall’s detailed floral painting, on round canvases, heeds the antique example of Victorian floriography, with blossoms serving as genteel symbols of family members, and as a self-portrait. Emily Mata, conversely, challenges heteronormative American family values, with her Kienholz-ish, funk-edged sculptural tableau of domestic life. Also in the three-dimensional realm (a realm meagerly served in cyberspace), Noah Terrill’s abstracted fort-like structure of wood-mimicking ceramics conveys ritual, nostalgia, and mortality.
Other visual and expressive realms are broached, including the glistening super-realism of Amanda Colacchia’s glassware, the vertically pitched and dreamy cloudscapes of Ashley Walker, and the fluid, nature-allusive abstractions of Olivia Kinkelaar (in thickly textured plaster and oil medium, again, lost in virtual translation).
All in all, the 2020 harvest of Westmont graduate artists again appeals and provokes. Wish we could have been there, but the virtual facsimile gives a sturdy taste.
Every day, the staff of the Santa Barbara Independent works hard to sort out truth from rumor and keep you informed of what’s happening across the entire Santa Barbara community. Now there’s a way to directly enable these efforts. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.