The new student-organized exhibit at the Triptych Gallery is an erratic conglomeration of artistic media organized around the theme, "Images of Desire." The show of student work has a some strong points (notably the photography), numerous unoriginal pieces and not much adherence to its professed theme.
The theme itself is no well-spring of originality--sexual longing has become a stock theme in contemporary art. An exhibit on the subject of sexual desire must be particularly strong in order to succeed. The Triptych assortment almost masters this difficult task, largely thanks to the compelling photography it features. But it falls apart at the edges--enough that at some junctures we ask ourselves, "What is the point of these pieces?" That is a fatal question to ask in any exhibit.
The video portion of the show cannot satisfactorily answer this question. Most of these seemingly cursory pieces are short and lack depth. They have little sense of motion and progression--most of them could have easily been done in the format of a slide show. The artists are more interested in playing with camera angles and techni-color than producing a framed or cohesive work.
The format of sculpture in the exhibit does not seem best suited to the purposes of its medium. The sculpture is generally too small and hence, without power. The notable exception is David Gammon's large, multi-media cross. It is a sloppy execution of a concept that has become hackneyed in modern art.
But the weaker areas, like video and sculpture, are easy to walk past. Strict adherence to their theme apparently has not plagued the exhibit's organizers--one organizer said the show intended to present "images of desire...sort of." The exhibit includes scultures, paintings, texts, photography, and video, and just slightly over half the pieces treat the topic of desire. We are wisest, then, to let the idea drop from our minds and enjoy the display of some student talent.
The tone of the students' works varies greatly--from the fancy of a greeting card collection/sculpture by Lana Wang, an unimaginative attempt at Nouveau Realism, to the power of Georgia Bush's two-part oil painting characterized by vibrant colors and bold movement.
One of the most striking arrangements is a collection of evocative photographs by Aleen Keshishian. The innovative use of unusual angles and reflections makes these pictures of one woman more than a simple set of well-executed portraits. While Keshishian's "images of desire" are direct portrayals, the photographs of Matthew Bank are more symbolic representations. His works contain sumptuous shapes and clean lines that relate desire without representing any of the traditional symbols of sexual yearning. The freshness of this photographer's works makes them a valuable addition to the exhibit.
The exhibit also features some imaginative and insightful texts. The poetry of Natasha Shapiro strikes a chord with many modern lovers, and the short story by Eleanor Stafford titled "She Framed Herself in Sofa" is a well-drawn impressionist piece on obsession with self-image.
The Triptych exhibit is a wide-ranging blend of media and work quality. But the show is worth seeing; the provocative pieces of student art are enjoyable, and the weaker pieces can be easily ignored.