Coiled in the basement of Bapst Library, the Spring Student Art Show presented by Boston College’s Art Club and BC Libraries offers a contemplative collection of student art. Students hailing from all disciplines were encouraged to submit their work, and the result is a fine collection of varying types of art-traditional canvas painting, digital prints, and photography, among others. Some of it seemed fairly straightforward-like a digital print of a fox-and some of it is anything but straightforward, like a canvas painted an acrylic white with tears and rips. That’s where most of the show lies, between the simple and the truly bizarre.
One of those works toeing that line is “Yorick” by Vincent Roca, A&S ’17. “Yorick” is an oil painting on canvas, and at first glance, is a portrait of a young man-and that’s where the simplicity dies. Painted with swirls of yellow, green, and maroon, our man seems to be holding a skull in his right hand with a generous array of bed head. The painting is well positioned, with the man’s eyes resting at the eye level of an average individual. His face has a look of surprise. His eyes look back at the viewer and seem to ask, “Why am I holding this skull? Why am I in yellow, green, and maroon? What am I doing in the painting?” The man doesn’t provide any answers, but asking is interesting enough.
Next to our multi-colored man is “Bare, 2013” by Rachel Lee, A&S ’16, and the two pieces are a telling work of contrast. While “Yorick” is a vibrant work, “Bare, 2013” is a work with hardly anything going on. It’s an acrylic painting that’s not really a painting-just a tattered canvas painted white. Here, viewers have to ask their own questions. Maybe it’s about the struggle of actually putting something worthwhile on canvas. Maybe anything someone puts on canvas is worthwhile. “Bare, 2013” forces the viewer to come to some sort of conclusion before moving on to what’s next. It’s one of the works in the collection that makes the viewer stop and slow down.
Further down the collection is “Vulpis Vulpis” by Patrick Hughes, A&S ’14. It’s a digital print of a fox with the text, “What the Fox” at the bottom-almost begging the viewer to insert “Does” and “Say?” to complete the famed declaration of one hit wonder Ylvis. But “Vulpis Vulpis” has more in store than vaguely referencing a YouTube sensation. The framed digital print has a clean look, but the fox itself at the center of the print is blurred, indistinctive. The ground around the fox is peppered with arrows, and the fox seems to be rearing up in defiance. The blurry, arcane image of the fox seems to be tapping into an old traditional collection of animal images-or simply a play on the Pokemon “Vulpix.” Again, viewer discretion need apply.
Set against this digital work is an old-time work of charcoal on aged tan paper called “Some Kind of Mysterious,” by Johanna Tomsick, A&S ’17. The work is of a dark, human-shaped figure-which incidentally, has other figures within its own. Tomsick has another similar piece of art in the collection. “Voyager” is the biggest work in the exhibit, in regard to the pure size perspective and perspective that make “Voyager” noteworthy. From a moderate distance, “Voyager” is an image of a man’s face-his eyes and nose. As the viewer gets closer, though, the man’s face morphs into a swirl of ink and charcoal and a series of planets. “Voyager” is a constellation, or at least a representation of one. Its size and vision set it apart from most of the other works in the show.
At the edge of the show next to one of Bapst’s unnamed, mysterious doors lies the show’s only series of photographs. “Untitled” by Jean Bower, A&S ’17, is a series of three photographs. The first is of a beach, with a winding string of rods thrust into the sand. The second is intertwining hands resting on a wooden board that reads “Good Bye.” The final photograph is a black and white photo of a city street, as a man and woman share a cigarette next to The Little Bar. These are quiet photographs-some of the real gems of the show. And what sets them apart from your friend’s Instagram profile is the depth in each: the waves in the background, the wedding rings resting on the hands, and the smoke billowing between the two city dwellers. There’s similar depth present in many of the show’s pieces, a depth that’s pleasantly surprising and unexpected for a student art show.