PANORAMA: A STUDENT ART EXHIBIT
Presented by Hillel Arts Committee
Coordinated by Tal Astrachan '01 and Sara Jablon '00
Panorama, Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel's recent art exhibit, was aptly titled. The exhibit, featuring the work of more than 30 Harvard artists, including graduate students, brought together a diverse range of works of art, subject matter and media. Panorama included many conventional pieces such as black-and-white photography, oil and acrylic paintings, charcoal drawings and watercolors but also presented very unusual media as well. Some of these are senior Amanda Proctor's Native American beadwork, a wire sculpture by Rachel Friedman '01, plastic boxes filled with transparencies and water by Jen Wu '00 and felt pennants by graduate student Paul VanDe Carr. Other unique uses of media and subject included junior Erwin Rosinberg's whimsical magic marker drawings, junior Shana Starobin's collage and sophomore Mana Golzari's mixed media work. Yet, in Panorama, the traditional and the non-traditional elements flowed together so well that neither one overshadowed the other but rather created a complimentary duality.
VanDe Carr's pennants were of particular interest. They look very much like any other felt pennants, hanging casually from the ceiling except that instead of bearing the name of a team or university, they are decorated with bizarre slogans such as "Hurrah for Hate," "I Love Work," "Go God!" and "Go Time." Each pennant makes an iconoclastic and provocative statement as even the backs of the pennants are decorated with more variations on the original slogan, such as a cropped clock face on the back of "Go Time," and "nice job!" on the "God" pennant. The sarcasm of these banners is hidden under a veneer of cheerfulness, providing a truly different perspective on society and spirituality.
Another piece that stood out is junior Elena Mer's untitled oil painting of a toilet that appears to be in the middle of a room, diagonally facing a couch that is almost entirely cut off by the border of the canvas. Although realistically painted in muted grays, blues and beiges, the toilet looks eerily out of place. Indeed, while the couch is hidden from view, we only see about three-quarters of the toilet itself, making the painting even more mysterious, so that finally the domestic legitimacy of the room is called into question. The excellent artistic technique of this piece imparts upon the viewer a sense of silence, thoughtfulness and quiet beauty. A toilet and a couch, ordinary household objects, seem unlikely subjects for such a painting, but through this painting Mer has given them a distinctly captivating power.
One of the most striking paintings of "Panorama" was senior Javier Mixco's portrait of a man viewed horizontally. The man is pensive, frowning; his jaw is constricted and Mixco's expert use of light and shading add even more to the somber quality of this painting. What is the man thinking about? What is troubling him? The portrait seemed almost intensely private, as if the viewer was intruding on the man's personal agonies and demons. Despite all this, the painting itself was not dismal or depressing but extremely reflective, piquing the viewer's curiosity. Mixco's piece was further enhanced by the fact that it was sitting on an easel in a corner of the exhibit and therefore had a private space of its own. Because of the easel, the painting seemed still very much attached to the artist, adding to the closeness already felt between artist and viewer.
Panorama gave us a tour of what student art can do.