The UH Mānoa Art Gallery is showing a heartening collection of new work by its Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates in graphic design and studio art. Fun ideas in a range of materials make these shows a must, along with closing festivities for the Honolulu Biennial.
SYSTEMS: 2017, UH Mānoa’s Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition, continues through May 12th at the UH Art Department Gallery. Design graduates are showing in the Commons Gallery next door. Free parking on Sundays. Kudos to the Art Gallery installation team for a most conducive layout!!
SYSTEMS: 2017 Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition
features works by BFA students in graphic design + studio art
April 23 – May 12, 2017
Commons Gallery (graphic design BFA)
The Art Gallery (studio art BFA)
The question is, how did twenty diverse Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates come up with a show that is so coherent and satisfying. You walk in to a school of fish by Sheanae Tam for one thing. Look out for the cockroach smasher by Allyn Goo. This is a physical show.
Artist, associate professor, Wendy Kawabata was one of the BFA advisors.
Kawabata: That’s one of my favorite things about this group. There’s resurgence in a desire for working with your hands, for getting to know everything about how your chosen material behaves, for understanding its history.
Kawabata points to four jaw dropping wood emblems that hang in the show—massive cats’ cradles carved from blocks of tree trunk.
Kawabata: It makes me think of the four hanging wood sculptures, hanging from the rope. Sean Ross worked on them where the tree fell over on the bank of the stream by Hawaiian Studies. Most of the production of that work was right on the site of the stream bed with a chain saw. I think that’s part of what makes the piece speak so strongly, is the contact with the material in its place from the beginning.
Carving with a chain saw is not like painting with a brush—which comes with centuries of historical baggage. Painter Kainoa Gruspe grapples that every time he puts his brush to a painting.
Gruspe: I guess with all of them I was kind of undermining or making fun of the technical education.
You can do that when you’re actually adept, and skillful rendering becomes just one language you can deploy.
Gruspe: Taking an innocent kid drawing and turning it into a serious painting.
Ends up saying maybe that kid has a point. Do you figure you’ve got your work cut out for you, trying to get people’s attention in the virtual reality era?
Gruspe: I guess trying to make something that I haven’t seen or something I would just like to look at. I feel like with the virtual reality era and digital technology, it’s exciting to go back to this. Coming here and seeing a seven foot canvas painting, I think is refreshing, still.
Also refreshing, Ira Villafranca’s three dimensional comic book world, and Monica Woolsey’s obfuscated images of Tomi Lahren and Donald Trump. Kana Ogawa’s look at western art education was honored with a Box Jelly Purchase Award, nice going Box Jelly! Momoe Nakajima’s gold overglazed ceramics, Taylor Johnson’s collection of feathers, bones, and memorabilia, Allyn Goo’s hard working cockroach smasher and so many other pieces make this a memorable show.
When it comes to delivering for a show, how do you dig deeper to pull things together?
Kawabata: As an artist and as a teacher, it’s about time spent. The more time you spend with your time in the studio, with your materials in the studio, and getting response from an honest and supportive group of fellow artists, the easier the process becomes. It’s never really easy.
Kawabata says this group of fine art students was remarkably supportive of each other. Wonder what they’ll be doing this time next year?