Senior Art Show Explores Meaning of “Remnants”
The senior art show “Remnants,” which premiered last Monday at the Fisher Art Gallery, features a collection of works that share an interest in time, nature and the artists’ relationships with the world. Artists Leah Faleer, Marielle Solan and Elizabeth Arnold have created work that is expressive of their own struggles and personal development.
Leah Faleer’s memorial sculpture is engaged with the constant search for self and the internal struggle inherent within that search. Her sculpture “Until” speaks to the quest to form meaningful relationships with others and, in fact, all of her pieces seem to involve a quest for understanding within the self.
Faleer concerns herself with her relationship to death in her very personal sculptures “St. Christopher” and “Poly-Esther.” “Christopher” is a memorial sculpture for Faleer’s cousin, Christopher, who died in 1997 of leukemia; the piece features Christopher’s face and two feet, making it not only a tribute to him but also to her own involvement — participating in a marathon — in the fight against leukemia. Poly-Esther is a dedication to Faleer’s grandmother and features not only visuals — a human-sized cocoon created from intricately-tied scraps of her grandmother’s clothes — but also sound effects and smells that are reminiscent of her connections with her grandmother.
Faleer’s strongest piece by far is “CodependentSea,” which features 13 small sculptures in the shape of child-sized bodies hidden under white bed sheets. Faleer describes these figures as “frozen in a struggle with inhibiting forces” as the title suggests. The powerful sculptures evoke something more akin to a political display; the figures are evocative of many anti-war artworks in featuring dead or suffering children.
Marielle Solan’s photography exhibit begins with a mystery: a photograph of an abandoned, rundown house Solan happened upon, its yard home to deserted family keepsakes. From this encounter, Solan developed a connection with the place. Her photos, featuring various found objects placed in the wilderness, express the emotions that the abandonment of these mementos evoked.
Solan’s gift in photography is her attention to colors: The works are photographed outdoors, and she makes full use of the natural lighting available. Especially effective is the faded look of the photos created through the color scheme of the outdoors and the washed-out objects themselves. At times, the images border on trite: a pair of white doll shoes set in the snow or a toy boat adrift in the marshes, for example, but Solan’s fresh use of color sets the pieces apart from usual evocations of this sort. Especially worth mentioning are her pieces “Butterfly Tree” and “Flight,” which perfectly show the relationship between the forgotten objects and nature.
The theme of a relationship between nature and the man-made is carried further in Solan’s other exhibit “Inside Out Doors,” whose photos of structures and buildings covered in wilderness are a reminder of the constant presence of nature.
Elizabeth Arnold’s pieces are very personal and concern themselves what she sees as her developing understanding of herself and the world. Her aptly titled “Death is not a Personal Affront” features several well-made wooden boxes of various sizes with detailed, science textbook-style drawings of the different animal and plant species whose ashes are supposedly housed within. This sculpture is a creative display of Arnold’s position on death as a natural occurrence, and one with equal ramifications for all forms of life.
Arnold’s sculpture “Soon to be Table,” various pieces of an unassembled wooden IKEA-style table, functions as something of a found art piece and is perhaps the weakest of her sculptures in that it relies heavily on the placarded explanation of tables as a fixture of her community. However, the piece is presented creatively and speaks effectively to a minimalist approach to sculpture.
Her strongest piece is an ode to self-discovery and individual expression titled “Happy Pants.” It is a pair of jeans that for Arnold’s whole college life have been slowly altered to represent four years of growth and memories. The pants themselves are colorful and whimsical, and are surrounded by journal entries that add to the playful and at times introspective process of not only the jeans’ construction but also Arnold’s growth into adulthood.
All three artists seem to be striving in their work for something ineffable,
a connection between the self and the outside world. Though their approaches in
bringing these themes to life vary, the work of all three is extremely effective
in evoking this universal struggle.