Illuminated creature-like structures pulled me into the Alumni Invitational 3 room upon entering the Tang Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. These perfectly constructed and stunningly beautiful creations are a collaboration of art and design, which showcase Johnny Swingâ€™s thoughtful and environment-friendly use of satellite dishes and various types of glass jars. The figures are large without being ominous. They are oddly inviting, asking you to walk through the black, metal arches and plant yourself underneath the span of radiant and peaceful light.
After swinging through the metallic archways, I was faced with Bradley Castellanosâ€™ large color photos that he cropped, cut, and layered with oil, acrylic paint, and resin. His works explore the conflict between beauty and destruction. He takes devastated scenes (typically demolished man-made structures embedded in nature) and makes them beautiful and vibrant by overlapping different techniques onto the photo, such as adding unnatural colors, like turquoise, to natural scenes. Bones and rib cages entwined in vines and tree trunks made his piece â€œChokeâ€ stand out the most.Â It gave me the vibe that nature is evil, which is quite contradictory to the typical view of nature being a place of innocence and tranquility.
While progressively being exposed to more paradoxical feelings, I found that Shellburne Thurberâ€™s psychologically-charged photographs of abandoned homes and empty offices did not express what she intended. I thought Iâ€™d be overwhelmed with the idea that these average places were potential breeding grounds for psychosis, yet my expectations werenâ€™t met. The only working element was the installation of Johnny Swingâ€™s chair â€œQuarter Loungeâ€ in the middle of Thurberâ€™s set, simply because it was fitting to the psychologist-themed content of her exhibit.
The past, present, and future meet in Josh Dormanâ€™s â€œGloamingâ€ where animals are engulfed in flames and buildings are swimming in water. This piece (as well as the others) has both an apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic feel considering that all nature, architecture, landscape, technology, and animals are present in this chaotic scene. Although the idea of the previous descriptions could seem gloomy and unwelcoming, they are strangely the opposite. He makes his statements bold through the meticulousness of his compositions and broad use of color. I found myself looking up close at his pieces, immersing myself in the worlds that Dorman presented to me.
The collective of these four artists brought me on a thought-provoking and emotion-evoking journey. With much thought, I was able to come up with a portrayed message that gave continuity to this entire exhibit: beauty can be found in the light of what seems to be doomed and bereft of life.
This exhibit, along with others at The Tang, can be viewed until late summer. Call (518) 580-8080 for more information, or click the links above.