Since the dawn of man, art has been an inherent human interest, endlessly captivating both artists and viewers despite ever-changing cultures.
There are 14 Ohio State students graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts this semester, and all of them will have works in the Department of Art’s BFA Senior Projects Exhibition, which opens Tuesday at the Urban Arts Space.
Ty Carroll, who has 14 pieces in the exhibit, said he’s been drawing since he could hold a pencil, but didn’t choose to switch his major to art and technology from engineering until his third year.
“People ask me why I made that switch, and my decision wasn’t about money or having the nicest car,” he said. “It was about doing what I want to do.”
Each of Carroll’s works display alongside one another for what he calls “a digital landscape for people who want to escape reality.” His artistic process uses photography, Photoshop and drawing with ink to create a plexus of digital and hand-drawn art.
“If the great artists from the past had the technology that we had today, their art would look completely different, too,” Carroll said. “If you gave Michelangelo or Picasso a MacBook or Photoshop, what they could’ve done would have been amazing.”
His imagination doesn’t stop at visual art but continues into the soundscape he made to accompany the digital landscape, which is supplemented by an animation sequence that Carroll made using Photoshop only, he said.
“Similar to someone surfing the Internet while listening to music, the mood of this digital land is captured in my electronic soundscape,” his artist’s statement reads. “Each song is a journey of exploration through this land. I’m not building a digital world, I’m discovering it one picture at a time.”
Carroll edited every frame of the five-and-a-half minute video on Photoshop, with each image of the 30 frames per second video taking about one minute to complete.
“It’s a very long process, but in the end it’s worth it,” he said, noting that he couldn’t find anything similar to his abstract production on the Internet. “It’s honestly something I created – not something I replicated.”
Andrew Slack, a fourth-year in painting and drawing, also brings an unfamiliar side of art to the BFA Senior Projects Exhibit with his fascination in geodesic domes, surrealism and spirit space, which his 27 works in the show aim to analyze.
“I’m interested in this idea of spirit space, which is kind of these places we go to when we’re thinking to ourselves, or like when you go to church or if you’re like spiritual, if you want to get away from everyday stresses,” he said.
Geodesic domes — first popularized by Buckminster Fuller — are spheres composed from smaller geometric shapes and bring a more concrete element to Slack’s work. He built a large geodesic dome of his own, “The Great Dome,” to sit in the center of his space at the exhibit.
“I enjoy the idea of a dome as a freestanding structure made of line, drawings and intention,” Slack said in his artist’s statement. “The drawings inside the dome also mimic forms found in nature and attempt to explore the vast spirit-space … the idea of invisible energies keeping the essence of the universe together.”
Slack’s surreal artworks blend painting and drawing, and largely come from his subconscious, he said. He puts paint to paper without a genuine plan and then interprets the results as coming from a part of his individual spirit.
“I’m just literally putting paint down, and then I’m letting myself respond without thinking about it very much,” he said. “I’m letting my subconscious make objects that I don’t fully understand.”
Another of Slack’s works in the show, “Mike Price,” was inspired by a friend who had a piece of his artwork stolen in an exhibit in high school. Slack re-created the experience of losing a beloved piece of art by redesigning his friend’s work.
“I did that whole painting in like five hours,” he said. “And then right after that I painted over it in white gesso, which was a really painful experience for me.”
The next day, Slack painted over that base coat with a new image, showing him screaming in rage, a depiction of the deep anger an artist feels in this situation. He made the piece on the Oval in 2010, strapping his canvas to a tree to keep it from blowing away.
To create the look found in “Mike Price,” he forms stencils on Photoshop, prints them, cuts them out and then spray paints over them.
“I have a rational side of my brain that I work from as well as spiritual part, so I wanted to show that in the exhibit,” Slack said. “In my corner of the gallery, I want (viewers) to escape from everything else that they’re thinking about — I want them to have a fun time.”
Merijntje van der Heijden, deputy director of exhibitions and curatorial practice for OSU’s Art Initiative, said that a big challenge for this exhibit was putting the works together in a visually cohesive way — a sentiment echoed by others in the program.
“We noticed in the walk through that there does seem to be a theme, although it wasn’t in any way planned, because a lot of these artists have never worked together,” said Kelly McNicholas, communications coordinator for the Arts Initiative.
The 14 students come from six areas of study in the Department of Art: painting and drawing, art and technology, printmaking, sculpture, photography and glass.
“Multiple artists seem to be engaged with imaginary landscapes and fairy tale references,” van der Heijden said. “But these particular themes are not everywhere.”
The Urban Arts Space is located at 50 W. Town St. The gallery is open every day of the week until 6 p.m. (except Sunday and Monday) and 8 p.m. on Thursdays; admission is free.
“Artists want to make something that people can escape to,” Carroll said. “That’s the thing about art; it can be something completely different to another person right next to you.”