Thanks to a little chair and a tall colleague, I was able to take part in Holly Laws’ conceptual work, “Dog Tag Project,” dog tags stamped with text fragments as commentary on war by and hung for the taking from the three rows of nails in the Baum Gallery at UCA. The work was part of “Connections: The Fifteenth Year,” a celebration of the gallery’s anniversary and a showcase for work representing the studio arts at the college.
Laws has distributed thousands of dog tags; mine was one of the very last to be removed from the wall at Friday night’s reception. The imprint on mine: “what was here before improperly erased” (number 02082), appropriate to any number of truisms about war.
Laws’ work was just one of several strong pieces in the exhibition, which featured work by alumni, professors and professional artists invited to take part. John Salvest contributed a work in which the words “Seize the Day” were spelled out in painkillers stacked in a medicine cabinet. Liz Noble — whose work is on exhibit all the time somewhere — uses dress patterns as a design element in her large “A Great Escape” painting of a woman in a bathrobe. Turning received art wisdom on its head, art professor Sandra Luckett’s abstract oils are quite small; she compares them to dioramas in sugar eggs, something to look into, rather than at. Former student Beth Post’s fantasy illustrations look like tinted etchings, her lines sharp and sketchy at the same time. Lots more here to see — small figurative sculpture by Kevin Kresse, Rachel Trusty's amusing and disturbing crying baby-faced chickens (stuffed fabric), Bryan Massey’s carved “Two Peas in a Pod," Bryan Moats' neatly absurd digital print.
A ceramic piece I regret I have to live without due to a personal shortage of currency is Debbie Kupinsky’s “Transmigration” in the entry gallery exhibit, “More Than a Mold.” Like the mother of the more-than-a-mold aesthetic, Viola Frey, the Appleton, Wis., has clustered premolded ceramics to make a base for her own work, large, unpainted heads atop doll bodies riding a nicely engraved dog. (The photo above will help; I will add an apology for the quality of the phone pix in this blog entry.) Jeannie Hulen offers a commentary on sexism with “My America! It’s a Boy!” featuring a terra cotta girl child and a trike fitted a pink silk scrotum (as in truck nuts).
Like other college art galleries, the work is good and hard to get to. Call the gallery at 501-450-5793 for directions.