by Christopher Koza
When thinking about where to see art, don’t forget the academic world which feature artists from graduate students to regional exhibitors. This week, Pulse of the Twin Cities turns its attention to galleries on two University of Minnesota campuses: Larson Art Gallery in St. Paul and Coffman Art Gallery in Minneapolis.
Digital Discourse, the current exhibition at the Larson Art Gallery, features digital artists Emily Radosavljevic and James Michael Lawrence. Both artists base their work in photography and use the digital medium to embellish, enhance and alter their imagery.
Radosavljevic largely utilizes people or human qualities.
the Day Away” uses slight digital adjustments to the supple lips of a
woman and the pattern of her dress, enhancing the reds and refining the overall
color palette. A fascination with the color red is present in many of Radosavljevic’s
pieces. “3” is a sepia-toned print depicting a woman calmly holding
her own heart, which shows up as a blood red, anatomically correct specimen.
In addition to her obsession with red, Radosavljevic lingers on secrets, hidden
things, death and the kinds of things one might find stuffed under the figurative
floorboards. While “Secret of Midnight” seems like a staged photograph,
it works as an illustration. Overall, the digital aspect of the work is understated,
and in many of these pieces it’s used mainly to articulate a mood or emotion.
To contrast Radosavljevic’s work, James Michael Lawrence leans heavily
on digital alteration in his compositions. A lifelong artist who has exhibited
everywhere from the Walker Art Center (1962) to the Kyoto Art Center (2003),
this exhibit finds him concentrating on work based on his relationship with
Lawrence embraces the digital medium with the colors he chooses and the techno-savvy
with which they are rendered in his inkjet prints. “12.24.04.4Post-Japan”
uses a Kool-Aid sunset as a backdrop for a series of yellow circles that resemble
stains left by wet pint glasses on a coffee table. Scribbled lines suggest Kanji
symbols, leaving the viewer to wonder if there is some covert meaning.
Radosavljevic and Lawrence offer different interpretations of what it means
to be a digital artist, although neither one exclusively embraces or utilizes
Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, Coffman Art Gallery is featuring works by Michael
Vegell and Helen Franzen. Unlike
the digital show at the St. Paul campus, this exhibit features an abundance
of organic materials. Vegell works in woodcut and stenciling, linoblock, cut
paper and cardboard. His large linosheet “Narrative #2005” is a
visual commentary on politics and global relationships over the last year. President
Bush makes an appearance, and like many of Vegell’s pieces, a mural-like
illustration follows, taking the viewer on a journey of images that suggest
Iraq, youth violence and media-saturated politicians.
In “Strada Nova #2,” Vegell creates an ad for the romantic tourist
through simple colors and a choppy woodcut, and at the same time shows his skill
as a creative printmaker.
Helen Franzen also turns in a strong collection, utilizing separate works of
lithographs, acrylic on canvas, and woodcuts. In “Helen,” a lithograph
and screen print self-portrait, Franzen uses a sketchy but detailed style. The
face reveals a tentative smile; oversized aviator sun glasses neatly reflect
passengers seated on a crowded bus.
Franzen renders detail with a loose, messy style in her series of woodcut portraits
and acrylic paintings. “Green Dress,” a large acrylic on canvas,
depicts a male figure tucking a green dress under his chin. Blocks of expressive
color loom in the background, and the detail is the dress pattern of roses,
suggesting an underlying story.
Whatever the messages purported by Vegell and Franzen, their work centers on
the human form, especially the face. The range of medium gives the artists a
chance to showcase their varied abilities in this lively exhibition. ||
Digital Discourse runs through Apr. 6 at the Larson Art Gallery
located in the St. Paul Student Center. Works by Helen Franzen and Michael Vegell
runs through May 11 at the Coffman Art Gallery located in Coffman Union.
locations and hours, please visit: SAO.umn.edu/VAC or call 612-626-6919.