Boomerang: BFA Student Exhibition

April 18, 2013

By Joshua Kelly Published Article in The Tiger Newspaper

Boomerang Subsistence is one B.F.A. show you do not want to miss this April. Sculpture by Gracie Lathrop, pastel drawings by Amber Rody, photography by Alice Wannermaker, and prints (and a video game!) by Travis Wood will be on display in the Lee Gallery from April 22nd–26th, and the reception – where you can get some free food and talk with the artists about their work – will be that Friday, the 26th starting at 6pm. These artists chose the show title “Boomerang Subsistence” because although most seniors in the Clemson B.F.A. program modify or completely abandon their concept at least once throughout the year of preparation and art-making that precedes their showcase, these four artists have been investigating the same themes through their work for over a year.

For sculptor Gracie Lathrop, the topic that has been at the forefront of all her work for over a year is a focus on tradition, particularly the investigation of and attempt to preserve her own southern heritage. The body of work that she will be showing uses furniture typical to what our generation may consider the antiquated south to bring viewers to a place that recalls not only southern heritage, but a nostalgia for a lifestyle that is rapidly disappearing. Her process of covering furniture with packaging materials such as tape or cloths, combined with a hardening agent like latex or glue, and then presenting us with these form “covers” in the gallery, transforms a solid piece of furniture into a shell of what it once was. While viewing her work, gallery goers are reminded of belongings perhaps similar to those seen in the houses of their grandparents, and because of the delicacy with which they are presented, Gracie’s work asks the viewer to consider the fragility and struggle of the act of the preservation of one’s own heritage.

Amber Rody’s pastel drawings address a topic that, more than likely, has been on the minds of about 98% of Clemson student’s minds for more than just the past year – sex. However her work is far from anything that you could consider pornography. Her drawings highlight the positive aspects of being in a sexually active relationship; the intimacy, the trust, and the struggle of growing together as a couple. Amber focuses on these aspects of sex to draw contrast to the view embraced by popular media that there is something about sex that should make us feel shameful for enjoying it. Her work is a reaction to the phenomenon that although popular culture idolizes the image of sex, social conventions make it “unacceptable to speak about and expected to be a hidden component of our personal lives.”

Another topic sure to be on the minds of college students is that of organic and natural foods. Alice Wannamaker’s documentary style photography tackles this issue by highlighting members of the local community that are also engaged and passionate about organic food. Her photojournalistic approach presents viewers with a glimpse into the lifestyle, mindset, and environment that these local farmers and growers live and work in. She draws attention to the various relationships between grower, preparer, and consumer; emphasizing that concern for where your food comes from is not only something that more and more people are caring about, but something that everyone should care about as well.

Through a variety of media including printmaking, painting, drawing, and even a video game, Travis Wood engages with the issues surrounding the ever increasing use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in mass produced/consumed foods – a concept that is on the other side of the organic food coin. Through the use of satire, Travis attempts “to blur the fine line between the progression of science and science fiction to the point of uncertainty.” His work asks viewers to consider their use of GMOs in their everyday life and strives to push the viewer to research GMOs more in-depth. Travis’ work features the faces of friendly farm animals, with super animal/human abilities due to their modified genes, in an attempt to provoke the viewer into questioning the ethical and health related issues raised by humankind’s attempt to control and perfect domesticated animals.