The McFadden Gallery space at Malone will be host to a series of rotating student exhibitions through December 10th for graduating seniors. The day I stopped in featured Alyssa Dibell and her aptly entitled show, Shutter Speed. Before I get into discussing her work, viewers need to understand what a senior retrospective show entails in order to give the installation a fair assessment. Depending upon the size of the art program in question, a senior show can focus on a specific body of work in a unified vision, or incorporate a variety of works showcasing what the student has learned. Malone would be considered a “small” art program compared to Kent, Akron or OSU so the latter style of show is well suited to how its graduates present themselves as emerging professional artists.
The posted statement relates how she chose her title for the show. Simply put, a shutter on the camera is the devise that opens and closes (at super fast speeds) allowing light to hit the film or sensors (digital cameras now have to be considered) thus determining exposure. Like time spent in college, how one develops (as an artist in this case) is determined by the times and places and exposures one encounters during this very brief period of their life. Ms. Dibell’s show is a snapshot album of what she has learned. Though a bit disjointed to include a little of everything (quite understandable and in a way, how we honor our teachers), I could see an emerging vision and hear the beginnings of her artistic voice.
I honestly don’t know if the work will still be on view by the time anyone reads this, but I have a feeling we will be seeing her work again so you can say you read it here first! My personal best in show goes to her watercolor “Epic Proportions” which is almost a painted version of the styles and markings found in her fabric works. My notes say “open the quilt to add a window with the watercolor behind it, pull the two media together and integrate”. Visually, she has depth in several areas and now is the time to focus on the media and work her strengths into one direction combining these elements. By this I mean mix the photography with fabrics making multiple layers of printing techniques. Many of her works have very visceral surfaces some formed by staining and others by additive elements. This is the point however where she gets a bit overwhelmed with “stuff” added to the surfaces. My favorite word pops up here again, “edit”, which is a learned skill and one she can in no way be faulted for at this early stage of her career. Many a senior show suffers from this malady, mine did too, because we want to get it all out there and experiment. I learned to edit through fashion. The same formula works for interior design, menu planning or any other situation where there can be just “too much” stuff. Okay, jk, so what is the formula?
Simply this, close your eyes and count to 10. When you open them look at whatever is in question, know that you must remove one item from it. The key word is must. Often one “thing” will lead to two or three and by taking away that which is the weakest, what remains is stronger. The process can be repeated as many times as something bothers you when opening your eyes. Of course we all know that when it comes to our own shows, houses or tables, rules don’t apply. Okay, back to Ms. Dibell’s show….I suggest she take her three personal favorites, and play with the techniques she used to make each one, then integrate those methods to create one piece. See what happens by challenging herself to make it all work with the goal of getting the resulting “style” into a juried show here or elsewhere. That first acceptance letter is a real kick in the pants! Now that I have discovered the Malone galleries, and other local college venues (Stark State’s 2nd floor hallway, Kent State Stark’s lower level space and Mt. Union’s Crandall Gallery) I hope others will consider adding these locations to their art hopping and shopping habits. Emerging artists are all around us so don’t miss out on new talents (mixed in with us older folks too every now and then). Happy Thanksgiving everybody.