Perambulating the Bounds

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dillingham and Mosvold Senior Shows

The latest round of graduating senior shows are up at Watkins now. My favorite pieces there were one by Amanda Dillingham called Blossoming Bodies and Gillian Mosvold’s Too Close.

Amanda’s piece is a series of botanical drawings on communion wafers. Communion is such a strange ceremony, with its consumption of the Lord, and the Catholic practice of making specialized wafers accentuates that. Little featureless discs designed to receive the Godhead. When Amanda draws plants and flowers on them (and these drawings are very finely and cleanly done), the wafers go to seed, but every other level of the transubstantiation transaction gets pointed in other directions. The spiritual feeding by the Savior gets connected to the everyday food provided by plants. The sacralization of the wafer extends to the plants, hijacking communion for a more thoroughly immanent concept of divinity extending to all forms of life. And the title makes this a piece about girls becoming women, A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs and such like, and the female body features in Amanda’s other work in the show.

The use of communion wafers is the latest in a kind of food obsession at Watkins students. In Amanda’s work you’ve also got honey in a couple of pieces, and it seems like several other artists have used that, and there’s a video piece that is projected on a pile of sugar. In other shows by other people I remember chocolate and tapioca at least.

The piece by Mosvold I liked best was a series of small drawings that could be parts of a nude body viewed way up close, and framed in some wax. She projects a sound from the ceiling, of water gurgling. The sound covers you more when you get closer to the drawings. The sound, which could be the sound of water in the plumbing system, gives you the sense of having violated the privacy of the forms in a way that’s hard to define. A nice effect, which she achieves through a very simple mechanism. This sort of thing is the artistic equivalent of an elegant mathematical solution.

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