The jury draws a verdict

It’s not very often Northern Kentucky University’s art gallery promotes such an assorted grouping of student art — ranging from heroic in nature, to the very macabre and surreal.

The galleries — located on the third floor of the Fine Arts Center — are showcasing the Annual Juried Student Exhibit through April 3, displaying everything from sculptures and paintings, to photography and graphic arts, all aimed to draw a crowd as eclectic as the exhibit itself.

“The exhibit is a great showcase of what students are doing from all levels within the art program at NKU,” said David Knight, director of exhibitions and collections at the Fine Arts Center.

According to Knight, the exhibit began before spring break with 300 pieces, submitted by students from every level of artistic ability. From there. The works were then critiqued by an independent juror who narrowed the field to 160 works, assessing the pieces on quality, content, strength of medium and presentation.

There were nine categories in which awards were given out, ranging from best of photography and painting to best of show.

This year’s best of show was awarded to a sculpture created by Didem Mert, called “Choose Your Destiny.” The piece is made from mixed media, and resembles a one-foot high ziggurat, constructed from corrugated material, with fragments of burlap adorning the corners.

The message behind the sculpture is ambiguous, but a note strategically plastered across the top might reveal a deeper intent: “AS A CONGLOMERATE OPEN ONE BOX. AND ONE BOX ONLY. REVEAL YOUR DESTINY.”

Of the other works on display, one is a spoof on the superhero frenzy that occupies America. Artist Christian Dallas created the painting called “A Day in the Life,” which presents the superhero, The Flash, as an everyday guy who gets up in the morning, dons his red suit and inconspicuously goes through the same daily regimen we all do: showering, reading a magazine while on the toilet, attempting to find just the right angle to pop a zit in the mirror.

Although parts of the painting have some detail issue, the work is a great example of continuous narrative, which is a technique where the same figure appears more than once in a single scene. The painting also has a great central message that we’re all human, even if we are of the super variety.

One of the astonishing pieces of art on display comes to the exhibit by way of artist Jesse Fox and includes three photographs.

The most poignant of the images, not to forgo the most shocking, is of a woman on a bed screaming with a severe and painful glare across her face (which is decked out with clown make-up). Blood smudges and splatters from her crotch, all while gripping an unwound clothes hanger in one hand.

With finite color usage and unconventional setting choice, this macabre image (to the degree of despair) conveys a strong message indeed — and at a single glance one can surmise what that message is. But if ever in question, defer to the title: “Baby Syrup.”
Another powerful image the exhibit has to offer is from artist Erika Danielle Carson, and is entitled “Emmaline McMullen’s 90th Birthday.”

The photo is a great example of memento mori, which is a visual art technique where the subject is accompanied with an object that represents impending death, such as a skull or decaying fruit or flowers. This particular photo features a young person occupying the foreground — highly in focus — while an elderly hand embraces the young face’s cheek. The black-and-white photo is powerful in its ability to juxtapose youth and dying. The photographer also employed an effect that allows the aging woman (presumably Emmaline) to appear completely out of focus, making her seem a million miles away from her embracing hand.

The juried exhibit remains at the gallery through April 3 and features enough works that almost everyone who attends will walk away inspired, confused or, at the very least, accompanied by a topic of conversation that will carry throughout the remainder of the day.

Story by Jeremy Jackson and William Fisher