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BFA Thesis Show explores memory and independence



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"I Love Snacks" is a collection of drawings imposed on the flat surfaces of ceramic works by senior Milly Cai. The work is on display in the Grunwald Gallery. Ty Vinson Buy Photos

Until Dec. 7, visitors of the Grunwald Gallery can see most of the art by graduating students in the School of Art, Architecture + Design. One piece, senior Eric Suh’s “A Ghost Memory,” asks visitors to do more than that.

“A Ghost Memory” is an interactive HTML5 installation. Patrons click through interactive images and GIFs projected on a wall. Some "memories" are oscillating abstract shapes, and others are skyscrapers contrasting an impressionist haze of nighttime sky.


Senior Eric Suh’s “A Ghost Memory” is an interactive HTML5 installation. Patrons click through interactive images and GIFs projected on a wall. Some "memories" are oscillating abstract shapes, and others are skyscrapers contrasting an impressionist haze of nighttime sky. Ty Vinson Buy Photos


Suh said those who delve into his work should consider it a meeting with his alter ego.

“I cherish everyday moments, elevating what could be ordinary things,” Suh said. “People and cars just passing by the street. I explore the idea of this universal memory, a memory that belongs to no particular person. That is what I call a ‘ghost memory.’”

Suh’s work is filled with these ghost memories — one GIF shows Suh wearing Mickey Mouse ears, holding a dog and spinning in a chair. Another shows a view out of a window on a quick drive by the Arboretum.

His work started with the technology used to create it — the GIF.

“I got interested in this concept of GIFs because they had the characteristic of looping forever,” Suh said. “I wanted to connect that to my memories. Some memories are stuck in my head and looping forever and ever.”

About a year ago, Suh started to collect footage for the installation. He said whenever something gave him a feeling of emptiness, he would take his phone out and film it. Some of these moments are in Korea, some are in Columbus, Indiana, and some are on campus.

“One thing that really interested me in this HTML5 format is the characteristic of how these web pages can be infinite,” Suh said.

Suh said he had to reduce the quality of the enormous GIF files to fit them into the project, which led to interesting effects.

“That reduced quality gave it some kind of new texture because memories aren’t that vivid,” Suh said. “I’m not necessarily unhappy with it.”

Other artists, such as senior Milly Cai, are interested in combining different forms of art with a sense of function and practicality.

Her exhibit “I Love Snacks” is a collection of drawings imposed on the flat surfaces of ceramic works.

“What I’m interested in in my artistic production is challenging the notions of ceramics and functional pottery,” Cai said. “I need to make it in a way that is special to the clay surface, that takes the materiality into mind.”

The illustrations on the clay pieces employ casual lines and bright colors, all light and lively, personable and casual. Cai said her visual language is the result of her childhood spent with TV shows and books — the pieces have exasperated expressions, dramatic plot lines and illustration.

She said her work is inspired by Chinese Tang dynasty vessels as well as contemporary artists, such as Yoshitomo Nara and Shoko Teruyama.

Cai said shows like the BFA Thesis Show humanize art and artists for students and community members.

“Freshmen or sophomores who don’t know about the fine arts program, they see this show, and think, ‘Oh, people my age are producing this work, I’m interested in producing this work as well,’” Cai said. “It allows for one less degree of separation.”

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