Washington Post Review Museum Review
IN THE GALLERIES: University of Maryland spotlights six former students
Something of an artistic class reunion, the University of Maryland Art Gallery’s “Laid, Placed and Arranged” showcases recent work by six people who studied at the school between 1990 and 2010. The work is mostly mixed media, which suits the show’s aesthetic: stark and reductive, yet abundant in its range of materials.
The only participant who is chiefly a painter is Laurel Farrin, who contributes a sort of trompe-l’oeil abstraction with lengths of black and yellow that resemble pieces of tape. Most of the others use pigment in assemblages or primarily sculptural pieces. Among these are Francie Hester’s compositions on acrylic discs and aluminum bars — soft patterns on hard surfaces — and Hiroyuki Hamada’s mysterious, coffinlike forms, made of painted resin.
Ellington Robinson and Wilfredo Valladares like to play with fire. Jumbled scraps of burned paper provide the backdrop for a Robinson combine that includes several punching bags. Both of Valladares’s aggregations include carefully charred rolling pins, alongside other intentionally damaged relics of domestic tasks.
The cleanest lines are courtesy of Meg Mitchell, whose “Fern Stations” place small plants between sets of large wooden speakers that broadcast drones, ringing tones and birdlike tweets. The natural world might be the inspiration, but it sounds far away. That’s characteristic of these artists, whose methods usually involve not observation, but manipulation and even destruction.
Laid, Placed and Arranged
Through Dec. 8 at the University of Maryland Art Gallery,
1202 Art-Sociology Building, College Park.
Fonseca, Fox,Yurcisin & Williams
There’s an intriguing echo of Wilfredo Valladares’s fire-shaped rolling pins in “Over, Under, Through,” a BlackRock Center for the Arts show whose three artists work with everyday stuff. Suzi Fox carves the wooden handles of hammers and clasps so they resemble human fingers. The artist responds to the innate sculptural qualities of practical items, while blurring the distinction between tools and their makers.
Fabiola Alvarez Yurcisin also works with found objects, notably a technology that’s nearly outmoded: videotape, which the artist weaves into walls and boxes. “Tile Play” is nine panels of interlaced ebony ribbon, recalling minimalist painter Ad Reinhardt’s arrangements of squares in slightly different shades of black.
Elisa Berry Fonseca’s materials include steel, but it’s often used to support constructions of fabric and paper. The artist’s wall pieces emphasize outlined forms, while free-standing sculptures suggest buttes and stalagmites, sometimes with mineral-like striations. What might be a sweater in another dimension here becomes a miniature landscape. That’s exemplary of all three artists, who find the distinctive in the ordinary.
In the upstairs gallery, Cedric Williams goes beyond merely documenting the ruin he finds at obsolete industrial sites. The evocative photo collages of “Dereliction” begin with images of a defunct Maryland cement factory or an abandoned North Wales quarry. They’re framed by bits of fabric and cardboard and caked-on sand and gravel — symbolic and actual traces of rock and earth. The Wales-bred Marylander’s pictures are in black-and-white; the 3-D elements add just brown and rare touches of green to the gritty palette. If nature is healing these man-made wounds, the process must have barely begun.