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Fall Art Reach Newsletter

OUTLOOK: PSU Art Graduates 2005-2009 (continued)

As the juror of an alumni-based exhibition, Yood remarks on a students’ distinct commitment to and engagement with a university and a department, how, even if for only a few years, students plumb the depths of the department, “experience triumph and setbacks, and interact closely with their colleagues and peers” to eventually emerge as veterans of that institution. In considering submissions for PSU OUTLOOK, Yood noted “their great diversity in viewpoint and platform” and states, “that’s what good art departments do, they nourish as much or more than they teach, and they invite their students to maximize their personhood and not ape the styles and approaches of their faculty.” As confirmation, Yood’s selection of 25 artists in OUTLOOK celebrates, in his words, what is possible where creativity is fostered. A review of the scope and range of approaches and the manner in which the artists have applied themselves in their transition from art school to independent art practice in the studio is notable. While OUTLOOK includes artists who attended PSU in and around the same time, the perceptual outlook appropriately reflects the individual creativity remarked upon by Yood. Drawings, photographs, and paintings show as compelling complements to geometric, figurative, and conceptual objects, mixed-media installation, assemblage painting, video, and internet-based pieces.   


Shelby Davis – What Did You Think Would Happen?
(Detail), cherry wood, 26 x 11.5 inches, 2009

To name a few, the work of Shelby Davis (MFA ’08) is a minimalist expanse of smoothly hand-planed wood appearing first as the physical plank alone, then as a sparse landscape. Minutely carved forms representing a mound and shovel, a cactus and dog, and a partially exposed figure emerge on the surface, yet embedded in the visible grain of the wood. As the roughly suggested forms become apparent, Davis’s scene morphs into an existentialist ocean of sand that distances the minuscule, vulnerable bleeps of animal, vegetable, and human life from the recently opened mound of earth. The photograph by Maryetta Jacques Bietz (MFA ’06), In Memoriam, presents within its frame a straightforward line drawing of an upright pitchfork isolated on a relatively immense sheet of paper. The sheet itself is estranged by its placement in an outdoor setting, leaning

Maryetta Jacques Bietz – In Memoriam,
drawing of proposed sculpture, 2009

precariously against a spindly patch of various yard plantings and weeds. With its combined ambiguous presence of iconic farm tool and vulnerable paper support (nearly slumping in its unprotected environment), a question is raised about the relationship of visual elements and the inherent nature of memorial. Gordon Barnes’ (MFA ’07) Monument to Mainstream is a mound of shredded paper topped by a tethered, heart-shaped mylar balloon on which the words “I Love You” are expounded. The scale of the mound, its tactility and physical presence, is countered by the lightness and airiness of its formation, further emphasized by


Gordon Barnes – Monument to Mainstream,
shredded bills, personal papers, mylar balloon,
size variable, roughly 5 ft. diameter, 6 ft. height, 2009.

the visual lightness of the helium balloon with its ubiquitous message. Antithetically, the incalculable weight of ‘mainstream’s’ impact on society is implicated in the indecipherable shredded ephemera serving as the base of the piece.

PSU’s Art Alumni and Friends Committee, in conjunction with the PSU Art Department, is proud to present OUTLOOK and to host James Yood’s visit. The organization of annual alumni exhibitions, with invited guest jurors and speakers, is among the goals set by the committee in an effort to reach out to art alumni. After a period of existence in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the current incarnation of the committee was formed in 2007 at the instigation of current committee chair James Minden (’77). Made up of graduates from studio art, graphic design, and art history programs, the committee works together at creating opportunities for art alumni to exhibit, interact, and take part in the wider arts community. While OUTLOOK was conceived as a showcase for graduates of the past five years, future exhibitions will take on various configurations as inclusive of a full range of students who have studied art under the aegis of PSU. The Art Alumni and Friends Committee is eager to highlight and promote all alumni achievements and to recognize the important role PSU plays in the expanding art environment of the region.


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