Nov 30, 2011

REVIEW | BFA Thesis Exhibition I, Joann Cole Mitte Complex, Gallery 1, San Marcos, TX

Jody Cross, Ocean Totum, 2011
I visited Texas State’s very own Gallery 1, located in the Joann Cole Mitte Complex, the same gallery that I pass by 5 days a week when I go to class. The Joann Cole Mitte Complex was one of the first buildings I went inside and explored when I visited Texas State as a senior in high school. Part of the reason I chose to come to this university was because of the two galleries in this building. They were awe inspiring and I told myself that I wanted my art work to hang in there one day.

The exhibition that is currently on display in this gallery is called BFA Thesis Exhibition I. It began November 28 and ends December 2, 2011. There are currently ten students whose artwork is on display in this exhibition.  When I first walked into the space, the first thing that grabbed my attention, all the way across the room, was the enormous Ocean Totum, by Jody Cross. As was probably intended to draw your eye into the entire gallery space, rather than immediately focus on one certain piece. It is a drawing of a shark, whale and other creatures stacked on top of each other, and it goes from floor to ceiling. I think it is a great way to utilize the tall ceiling in the gallery. Next, I viewed Mollie Ryan’s self portrait paintings which were directly to my right. This series focused on how the artist wanted to have the wonderful imagination of a child again. As I walked around the room in a clockwise manner, I viewed Emily Miller’s five mixed media works, which had lots of text and a very muted color palatte. After that, I went to Max Marshall’s series of photographs called Natural Encounters. I liked the order in which he placed the photos, with the only brightly colored picture placed in the center of the row acting as the focal point. Next to this piece was the Ocean Totum, and then on the opposite wall to the entrance are Stephanie Gage’s photographs of plastic bags blowing around in different areas outside. In her series, she is very concerned about plastic bag waste; in fact it is kind of ironic how some of the plastic bags look like horrid creatures, reflecting how plastic bags are terrible for the environment. Next to this work is Andrea Nguyen’s photo collage called The Summer I Loved You. To the right of this piece is Emily Thomas’ collection of tie-dyed Canvases. She compares her artwork to people and landscapes because you always see something new in these subjects, just like in her canvases. They look like kaleidoscopes, the eye is constantly moving.
Margo Uyarra, 2011

This concludes the artworks that are hung on the walls, however there are also two pieces that are in the center of the room. One is by Margo Uyarra, and is an installation of a beautifully hand woven tent situated on the floor. Underneath that is some sort of material that has been painted, with my favorite part of the work being the hand crafted rocks made of wood. On the wall behind the installation appears to be a boulder made of yarn. This installation felt very warm and earthy. The other artwork, titled Liqvefield Fantasies by Valerie Ann Short, in the center of the gallery is made entirely of fabric. This artist states that she likes to make things that resemble the sea and the things that live in it, which is exactly the subject matter of this installation. The outermost fabric is white and transparent, and has very intricate hand sown designs on it. The next piece of fabric is the same, but with an added layer of colored creatures from the sea. The last piece of fabric is multi colored with greens and blues. I like the way the fabric is draped over the viewer’s head, so you get a sense of being under the ocean.

The final piece of this exhibition is by Brandi Ottesen, and to me is the focal point of the whole exhibition, even though I didn’t really notice it at first. It is by far the largest artwork, yet it is the last one I viewed because it is hidden. The major part of the work is concealed by black curtains. When I first walked up to the piece, I was very cautious because there is a loud humming noise coming from the black curtains. I was almost afraid to see what was behind it for fear it was something grotesque. When you open them up, there is a long dark tunnel you walk through and the loud humming noise continues. While walking through, you feel very anxious and claustrophobic almost scared, my heart was even racing a little and I walked very fast through it because I was by myself. I like this piece because you are actually apart of the artwork as opposed to looking at it. Ottesen describes her installation with a quote about a man who was on the expressway and is feeling the anxiety of being trapped on all sides by cars, as if he was about to crash. 

- Katrina Runge


  1. The whole exhibit is pretty amazing to me. Brandi Ottesens installation was really surreal though. Walking through it almost gave me that feeling like i wasn't suppose to be in there. The darkness added sort of a sense of mystery and caution. Also the paintings as you walk into exhibit 2 were really amazing they had a kind of glowing effect to the medium and was a interesting retrospect of Romanesque sculpture.

    -Zac Colquitt

  2. I understand you only wrote about Gallery 1 but please rectify your statement,"There are currently ten students whose artwork is on display in this exhibition." There was actually 19 of us total-our exhbition spanned both gallery 1 and 2. We all worked very hard and deserve proper recognition.
    -Serena Rangel

  3. I personally didn't find the ocean totem to be the most interesting piece of work there. (also, you spelled it Totum, it's Totem)

    Also, you never gave the name for the final piece by Brandi.
    - Erin Davis

  4. I actually had the pleasure of seeing a good many of these artists work on their senior show. Emily Miller has been working on the idea of post cards since Spring 2011. The original one I saw I believe it was much larger than the ones shown in the gallery, I have to say I was a little disappointed that she didn't go larger in scale.

    Jody surprised me with her piece. Last semester she was working on this nightmare theme with birds. Regardless of her abrupt change in theme, I think she did a wonderful job.

    The piece under Margo's woven tent is paper. That piece took up at least a quarter of the Fibers room for a week or so.

    Valerie's artwork is always so beautiful. She actually works with alcohol based markers and embroidery. She almost incorporated images of birds in her piece, but I think with the overall oceanic theme she made a good choice in leaving them out. My only criticism for that piece is that the way it was hung didn't flatter it. It should have been hung on a wall horizontally or vertically.

    -Emily Lewis

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