by Lisa Pike
The first Senior Show of 2009, featuring work by Krystle Belanger, Jesse Cloutier, Jessica Eastman, Sarah Izatt, is a whirlwind of experiences from the natural, fashion, travel, memoir and philosophic worlds. The pieces are very good examples of the art of the Chester College community, being both unique and skillfully constructed in their individual messages.
Krystle Belanger’s black and white manipulated photographs, cumulatively called “I’ll Remember You…,” are reminiscent of antique postcards yet with a modern twist; two images were spliced together to create ghostly apparitions of the places she visited while in Florence, Italy. These apparitions act as a focal point of each piece, drawing the viewer into the place and the narrative that is being told in the surroundings. The audio track which plays alongside the pieces syncs perfectly with the portrayal of the city and allows for the images to become three-dimensional in nature, enveloping the viewer in Belanger’s whirlwind of experiences while abroad. The audio, lighting, and composition of the pieces all adds to the achievement of the piece in transporting the viewer into a different time and place.
Jesse Cloutier’s natural found object pieces collectively entitled “Silent and Very Slowly Growing” also employ a muted color palette of grays, blacks, and whites, but also have bursts of color in the form of preserved insects and tinted glass within a number of pieces. When looking at the work one can’t help but remember their younger days of exploring the woods and realizing everything natural was a treasure. Cloutier has translated this most astutely in his work by using the dried husks of dead grasshoppers and bees as well as the unraveled paper of abandoned wasps' nests, in essence creating a wonderland of childhood delights. Some of the most impressive pieces of the installation are the photopolymer intaglio prints on wasp nest paper, considering how fragile the nests are and the demand it must have taken to achieve the best end results. The other piece which caught many viewers’ attentions is the found sculpture centered on the floor of the installation area, a mixed media piece reminiscent of sea glass in the light yet blended with mechanical and constructional elements of gears and cement; alas nature meets industry but still lives in harmony.
Jessica Eastman’s digitally manipulated photographs, entitled “Raw,” show a darker side of her life, not often seen in her positive, energetic personality. The pieces consist of a mélange of images, which in turn each tell a part of the larger narrative summarized in one sentence below each piece. The sentences are left for interpretation through the viewer’s emotional response to the accompanying images. Many of the images are quite visceral and gut wrenching, realizing the tremendous impact upon the artist’s life and how she can tragically sum it up in one sentence while the images speak volumes and could write a book. The most riveting piece of the installation is the final image in the series, consisting of only a blurred, almost warped, face pressed up against glass and the simple statement of her pleading for protection from her ex-boyfriend. The image elicits great emotion in that it is almost inhuman in form, showing the intensity of the memory and its impact upon her life to the extent that she still can’t see it clearly.
Sarah Izatt’s model-based photography creates a very interesting dynamic with its hanging installation. Each photo-prism, when viewed at a certain angle, forms a triptych with the other photo-prisms, creating a larger image of the same model in varying positions and lighting. The positioning and use of color on and surrounding the models helped to create a seductive allure to the pieces, which makes them much more than just fashion photography. The emphasis on the models rather than the clothing makes the pieces much more relatable and enjoyable instead of the usually stiff fashion photography which is the standard in the fashion world.
Steph Libby and Blake Lagasse read work from their senior projects at the opening on April 1.
Steph Libby's manuscript, She Is There, is a collection of fiction and poetry. She read from one of the fiction sections of the manuscript, concerning a young woman meeting up with a couple of wanderers and their adventures together. Her main character, the young woman, remains an enigma to the reader, never saying who she is but is willing to share her life experiences and philosophies. Her syntax and diction have a poetic flow, crafting very tangible imagery and the characters’ internal thoughts. The wanderers she meets up with soon become very three-dimensional and relatable to the reader while the main character remains somewhat two-dimensional because she does not yet know who she is herself. Libby paints a striking portrait of a girl lost and trying to find herself in the lives of other people.
Blake Lagasse read a short story entitled “The Caretaker” which portrays the all too tragic situation of grown children abandoning their elderly parents because they are too wrapped up in their own lives of consumerism and capitalism. The main character, a young caretaker, is an exception to this conformity in that he is stuck in his life and feels he must take care of others to have some feeling of fulfillment. The secondary character, Harold, the caretaker’s patient, is painted as a miserable old man at first but the reader soon comes to love him for his comical quips and pity him for his tragic view of life after his wife’s death. Lagasse does a stellar job of portraying the many types of love in this story and the degrees to which they are life changing to every person connected.
The night was an utter success for everyone presenting their final works. There are still more receptions to come, so be sure to check back here at the SO Good blog or the Chester College of New England website for dates and times of upcoming senior shows and who will be exhibiting and reading.