The Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University presents Five, on view in the Coulter Art Gallery from January 11 through February 28 with a reception on Thursday, January 21, 2016, from 5 – 7 PM. As well, there will be two artist talks: the first on January 21 from 4 – 5pm, and the second on February 26, from 3 – 5pm. This annual group exhibition introduces the five first-year MFA students in Art Practice: Omar Arason, Mark Baugh-Sasaki, Becca Kahn Bloch, Steven Garen, and Boris Oicherman.
Faculty curator Jonathan Calm states: "What connects the artists featured in this exhibit is their exploration of hybrid spaces as a journey that is both site-specific and contingent, channeling experiences and materials from different realms of physicality into unified, integrated mixed media works.”
Omar Arason is primarily an Icelandic-American painter whose interests revolve around mythology, belief systems, and theology, which stem from his childhood being raised by religiously devout parents and among religious communes throughout the world. At times, Arason does explore his ideas through other mediums, and such is the case with his sculptural work on view during Five that represents a cobbled-together humanoid figure. Arason describes his work as a symbolic dreamlike escape at the intersection of religion, science, myth, and personal narrative.
Born and raised in San Francisco and exposed to the natural environment of the Bay Area, Mark Baugh-Sasaki relocated to Pittsburgh in 2000 to attend college. While there, his art practice was profoundly affected by the yo-yo effect of what was once a natural, pristine environment that had become an industrial wasteland during the rise of the steel industry and is now transforming back into habitable land. As a sculptor and installation artist, he incorporates reclaimed wood, found stone, steel, and cast metal to explore his connection to the environment and investigate his surroundings and himself.
Becca Kahn Bloch, is a printmaker and mixed media artist whose work explores emotions – awe, grief, love, and bewilderment - and investigates how they can lead to personal experiences of transcendence. A San Francisco resident whose aesthetic of failure - of the natural world and the human body alike - as a discursive principle and source of resilience, finds expression in an open, layered-shaped fabric installation, entry into which reveals a very tangible yet ephemeral and abstract level of density that intensifies as the viewer walks through the piece.
Steven Garen, having grown up in Los Angeles amid asphalt deserts and coastal cliffs, has long been curious about the environment and the way people interact with it. Interested in how built systems control and exploit the natural environment, Garen’s creative process often begins with an expedition – at times to restricted access locales - to experience firsthand the interaction between industry and nature through collected objects and photographs, which he then translates through his artwork by way of casted sculptures.
Former color scientist and multidisciplinary artist Boris Oicherman channels his interest in extremely site-specific public art practices and cross-disciplinary projects into a collaboration with composer Laura Steenberge, in which the sounds of Oicherman learning to play the guitar based on Steenberge's compositions are looped and fed back into the McMurtry Building's exhibition space. According to Oicherman, creation of a site-specific work is a continuous process of learning and unfolding existing stories of the place, while at the same time constructing new ones.