More than halfway to the finish line

Eleven graduating art and art history students showcase their works at the Blackwood Gallery

Springtime in university means different things to different people. For some, the warm weather teases us with the hint of summer coming along. For others, looming deadlines are just around the corner. For UTM’s art students, the latter brings forward new beginnings in their artistic careers.

The Blackwood Gallery held the initial part of the Halfway/Between exhibit, created by the art and art History program’s 2018 graduating class. The first half called Halfway featured the works of 11 graduating students: Mark Aguirre, Julia Bonavita, Gedi Chen, Baoyi Huang, Yihan Li, Cherie Novecosky, Heather Riley, Chelsea Ryan, Heather Shanahan, Yu Sung, and Alissar Soujaa. Together, they formed pieces that highlighted how tricky it is sometimes to find our bearings within small spaces. Separately, they individualized their specific artistic qualities, while touching on this theme collectively.

Interweaving between the past, present, and future, the artists were determined to showcase the idea of interstice—defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “an intervening space, especially a very small one.” It derives from the Latin ‘intersistere’ meaning “stand between.” The exhibit fits this concept because the idea of interstice debates how well we stand in the face of disruptions that shapes our narratives.

The gallery boasts a wide-open space, one that can house heavy topics just fine, literally and physically. One piece that doesn’t take advantage of the space’s flexibility is Mark Aguirre’s “The Kids are Gonna be Alright”—but when you discover it hiding behind the gallery’s front doors you’ll be glad you did.

The strand of digital art prints focuses on millennial culture and the seemingly overlooked aspects of their lifestyles. Aguirre attempts to expose the simple, often trivial elements that can define growing up in the millennial age. One photograph splits in half, showcasing a girl in a striped t-shirt, and the other half exhibiting what could be party culture—although the image is blurred to a slight. There’s an ambiguity between what the two images have in common with each other, perhaps attempting to recognize the “half-frames” Aguirre wants his viewers to indulge in.

A series by Alissar Soujaa sat just a wall away. It showcased the relationship Soujaa wanted to convey between water and the landscapes. Holding the titles “Seascape, Against the Tides” and “Fernweh, the three-work series highlights that landscapes closer to water are ways that people can find solitude and escape.

When describing her work, Soujaa relays that her last piece “Fernweh” holds a specific meaning than the rest of the pieces in the series. “Fernweh, in particular, represents a place that I’ve never been to yet I am nostalgic for.” The piece is painted with a pier delicately holding place in the background, while the foreground imitates some kind of fantastical crystal clear blue body of water.

The last piece that concluded the exhibit isGumball with Glove” by Julia Bonavita. The piece is very left field, but in a new and innovative way as far as art goes. Her approach is largely unique and probably nothing that’s been seen before.

There lies a clear, disposable glove with a giant gumball that the artist claims she has been “rolling [. . .] around the floor” of different places she’s been. These include simple places, like home and school. The gumball sits there with dark spots and crumbs to signify that it’s been everywhere. It’s everyday life—the elements we encounter everyday but are too small for us to take notice of.

Halfway ran until March 31 at the Blackwood Gallery.