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Exhibit to highlight work of OSU graduate students

Photo courtesy of the OSU Urban Arts Space

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Artists noisily clamor about a bright, cluttered room, putting the finishing touches on their visual masterpieces. A human-sized cardboard spaceship looms in the corner as several artists work to focus a nearby projector’s flashing images of faces onto the white wall. A man mutters to himself as he grabs a level to straighten a colorful abstract painting that’s listing lazily to the left.

The sunny day breaks through the windows, but the dank smell of wet paint hanging heavily in the air serves as a blissful reminder to the students that the real action will be inside the exhibit.

Their hours of hard work will not go unnoticed: The annual graduate student art show will begin at the Ohio State University Urban Arts Space on Tuesday.

This year’s show is called “Confluence(s),” which Merriam-Webster defines as “a coming or flowing together.” The artists were given the freedom to interpret the theme however they chose, said Scott Neal, an Ohio State alumnus and exhibitions and accessibility coordinator at the OSU Urban Arts Space.

“They can make up whatever they want, as long as they can justify it,” he said. “The idea is that (the artists) had all these old artifacts that they bring into this new era and deal with these older historical things in modern day.”

Although the artists worked within the common theme, each student’s work was crafted independently.

“It’s very individualized,” said Zoey Boyles, a deputy director at the OSU Urban Arts Space. “Each artist is responsible for their own piece because it’s their thesis work.”

Although each student worked separately to complete his or her project, there is a definite flow and cohesion to the display, said Susana Alvarez, a graduate student in art whose work is part of the exhibit.

“If you go around the exhibit, you’ll notice that each of (the projects) has some similarities,” said

Alvarez, whose piece is a large collage that combines cut-outs of drawings with transparent layers. “A lot of us are working with memory and nostalgia. We’re working with layers.”

Part of the beauty of the master’s exhibit is that it gives students the chance to critique and help one another, Alvarez said.

“It’s easier because it’s a group thing,” she said. “You make friends, and everybody helps each other out and gives opinions, and it’s helpful.”

Because the student artists are from a variety of disciplines, the new exhibit will display works in a wide range of presentations, said Joanna Reed, a fourth-year in art history and dance who has been working at the space since it opened in 2008.

“(The pieces) range in everything from installation to art and technology to video to drawing, painting, ceramics and performance,” Reed said.

“Basically, all fields in the arts are represented.”

The Urban Arts Space hosts everything from undergraduate works to internationally-renowned artists throughout the year, but it’s the master’s exhibit that gives a good look into the future of the art community, Reed said.

“I like work that’s cutting-edge or provocative, and this show tends to have a lot of different stuff exploring lots of different political issues and themes,” Reed said. “It’s my favorite show that we have every year.”

The exhibit will open on Tuesday and will run through May 14. The show is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Urban Arts Space website at www.uas.osu.edu.

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