Introductory Essay – 2018

Watercolor on paper by Ye Wang titled Study in Yellow and Violet.

There is an anticipated structure in student work; that imposed by like assignment or instruction, to any particular collection. And so it becomes the task (and the delight) of the jury to select not the unique pieces but the ones that cause you to see the same in a new way. It is sometimes an interpretation, sometimes a pushing of execution that you sense, an impulse, the excited or meditative state of the artist and you wonder if this isn’t Kierkegaard’s dizzying freedom, the excitement of the artist who sees, not the way out but the way in.

Through collage, fragmentation, the successful herding of light, color and form, each work, drawn, painted, sculpted photographed or digitally rendered suggests the artist has had a good lean out, a hard stare and a victorious grapple.

Charlene Boateng’s figure simultaneously fills and bursts from her Victorian frame. Reminiscent of Yinka Shonibare but in reverse; Boateng retains the sober garment instead celebrating contemporary African presence thru the joyful hues, forms and patterns of the environment.

Marquis Reed’s Dream comically fuses the modern and post-modern, the critical and the pastiche. His title reveals a refreshing lack of cynicism without lessening the impact.

Megan Groll and Anny Fernandez earnestly engage us; an intensity of labor is evident in the minutiae but their exuberant expressions tell of a celebratory embracement of task.

Alejandro Ordonez’s Urban Abstraction arrests us with a silence that gazes back; its inhabitants lie mostly dormant, save the few sentries that reside unblinking. And you wonder for how long and linger just a little longer than you intended.

The trio of Bowie collages, (indeed, a man for all seasons) authored by Ye Wang, Ashley Williams and Xiali Xu, likely part of a generation introduced to the iconic chameleon in the reprise following his death, cloak the austere Ziggy with uncharacteristic but hardly undue affection. Dusty earth tones, soulful metallics and hazy daisies harken to the now faded 70s and worn grooves of glory.

Genesis Blanco boldly goes outside the lines but in a deliberate and structured fashion then relaxes and grins with her punny title Architexture.

Emely Yauri with painfully delicate and precise line work weaves seemingly disparate objects into woeful melodic environmental commentaries.

David Boris’s gelatin silver print, Reflecting Jar, is painterly in his use of light and considered range of texture balancing figure and ground. The angle is not happenstance it is sought and seized when the advantage is recognized.

Samantha Vasquez’s Untitled portraits, despite their brevity and passive subject, have an uncanny pull and monumentality. Here again is an artistic choice, to direct, shoot and print what maximizes affect. Max Alexander’s Hairnado and Charles Silla’s Crossing with keen eyes also capture gold, but in a singular reflexive motion.

Hongchi Jin’s Untitled graphic design work presciently grinds out a hurdy-gurdy kaleidoscope of image and pattern. The proffered bouquet of dried roses and barren landscape pleads patience and begs understanding.

Raindew Melody announces Denise Pan’s cheerful evening songbird and dew, cast blue in the twilight.

Oil portraits with freshly found swagger bully color; Brianna Dennis’ She is perfection in her quiet sealed beauty while Cindy Nu del Arco’s blended terra and sanguine tints integrate figure and ground but more declare the ambiguity of the model. Cool swatches of blue violet and green sit defiantly alongside smoky roses and pinks in Paola Beniquez’s confident formal use of color. And, as if to undermine color’s allure Beatina Baker’s Saturday Madness, using only burnt sienna, presents a strangely bold yet undeniably vulnerable and even fragile portrait. Baker produces all her affect with careful mark-making, deliberate washy and textured surfaces.

Molded plaster portraits (from clay originals) exercise their own economy of means; Sunny Kim and Christian Ascencio adeptly portray sublime peacefulness through sparse form and restrained mark. A coat of translucent wax is buffed just to the point of credible human warmth. More stolid personas peer out from Ying Shi Liu’s and Mariel Torres’s thoughtfully sculpted portrait busts. Torres betrays attachment in the tender rendering of skin stretched taut and then lax again in her stalwart My Warrior.


Many more are present and merit a visit.

Theirs is a generous offering.

Full marks for all the artists, all those that found a way in.


A Coffey, Professor in the Department of Art & Design, 2018