“Office of Lost Control”exhibit sparks student’s interest

The Channels Art Pages | STAFF REVIEW


Isabelle Sinibaldi

Stephanie Washburn’s video piece, “Idaho” on Monday, Feb. 27, at the Atkinson Gallery. The Video depicts a landscape of Idaho, and at one point throughout the video a potato floats through the screen.

ZURI SMITH, Channels Staff

Art is romantic but in reality, I had little interest in going to see anyone’s work on a Friday evening. But I had a job to do so I went.

Drawing professor Stephanie Washburn’s artwork is currently being exhibited in the Atkinson Gallery. The exhibition is called “Office of Lost Control.” It premiered on Friday, Jan. 27 and will remain in the gallery until March 24, 2017. Washburn will speak about her work on March 22 in the Physical Sciences Building Room 101.

The exhibition is abstract with elements of nature, people and food. Photographs of hands playing with fire and food dot the walls. Large paintings and drawings of storm clouds take up large spaces. I for one, was not disappointed.

Washburn’s work is unusual. It’s not your typical paintings, drawings, or sculptures. Her art is a combination of limbs caressing natural elements and then nature itself. Her art portrays the desert and then storm clouds. It portrays everyday objects placed in odd positions.

My favorite piece of Washburn’s is titled “Portrait, Charcoal on Paper.” It’s a large piece, taking up a solid portion of the white wall it’s placed against. Shades of gray swirl throughout the piece, making it look like clouds before a storm. Splotches of whiter gray peek through, making you wonder if the sun will make an appearance.

My second favorite piece is a tie between “Telltale (Fire 2)” and a video still called “Idaho.” Both pieces, though different in content, are similar due to their layers. Washburn’s work at first sight appears two dimensional, but upon closer inspection, it is clear that there are layers. The first layer of “Telltale” looks to be a night shot of a cornfield. The second layer looks like a burning piece of paper, floating gently away into embers, which in turn are floating into a pathway of stars.

When I first saw “Idaho,” my first thought was of the television show “Breaking Bad.” The first layer, like the background of the show, is of the desert on a clear day, the mountains scraggly and dark in the distance, the plants sparse and numerous in the ground. It’s beautiful. And every once in a while, if you stand there long enough, a potato will fly across the screen.

My second thought was “why the potato?” But after standing there and watching the dry beauty of the desert with the occasional tuber dart across the screen, it began to make sense in a way that doesn’t make sense. Why shouldn’t there be a potato in the middle of the desert?

These pieces elicited a feeling of nostalgia within me, which caused me to appreciate Washburn’s creative process. It made me think of drives to Las Vegas to visit my family. It made me remember cloudy days on a walk home from school. It made me remember all these little moments I thought were gone forever.

The gallery is sprinkled with Washburn’s unique take on art. People stand in front of her work and look at her pieces, trying to process the images. You can almost hear the wheels of their brains turning as they try to make sense of it. To me, it seemed that the only thing they were sure of is that Washburn’s art was making them feel something.

Washburn’s art makes you feel something. It doesn’t make sense because it shouldn’t have to. Personally, Stephanie Washburn’s art made me feel nostalgic about a time that had long since passed. I know that it isn’t going to be that way for everyone because art makes us each feel something different.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s what art is supposed to be.