MCAD has built its reputation by fostering cutting edge design, contemporary media and quality technique among its talented student body. It is not a place to see the kind of artwork meant for coffee shops or grandma’s house—this stuff is on the track to someplace else, whether that is modern relevancy or the recycling bin. In any case, the immediacy and scope of the 2006 Student Commencement Exhibit is inspiring, and besides, these kids have just spent the last three to four years of their lives for this one show, so it is worth a viewing.
Natsuco Kamono invents Communication—an enclosed cave under a stairwell in the main floor of the building that is filled with dirt, rocks, a pool of water and instructions to toss a rock in the pool and ‘watch the wall to see what happens.’ Viewer participation art is generally a self-conscious experience, with unknown expectations on behalf of the absent artist. But here, it is childish wonder that surfaces with the ripples and shimmers on the wall. Try it for yourself.
The urban culture of Minneapolis is represented by a couple of pieces. A Perceptual Documentation of Lake Street collages shop names (Town Talk Diner, Gyros) with other imagery, like water drops and traffic lights, together in red and blue media mounted on glass. A book of photographs accompanies the abstract project.
Another Minneapolis-themed work is a triptych by artist/designer Nancy McCabe, whose three large mixed media pieces reference bus stops, and feature people sitting and smiling. People smiling at bus stops is rare, but in McCabe’s series, it is a welcome change from the many works featuring a gluttony of cold and isolated characters who are either expressionless or hopelessly confused. In this case, smiling seems original.
Just about every medium is presented here, from filmmaking to fashion design. A documentary on local hip-hop is located down the hall from a designer’s take on new uniforms for the Minnesota Twins. Radke in camouflage? Adopt-a-Sprout is a theme presented by another artist (whose name could not be found amidst the alfalfa) who takes a serious approach to the importance of sprouts for companionship, among other uses.
Size is synonymous with impressive in this year’s show, as larger-than-life oil paintings by Lizzy Martinez capture a sense of personal surrealism. Solitary features a tattooed nude playing a card game, crouched before a window as the still-life sunrise beams from outside. Martinez’s medium is as traditional as it gets, but the ultra-large format and handling of the paint makes is fresh. Just around the corner, John Renzella’s woodcut of his apartment, presented from a 360-degree perspective, is a transport to the artist’s living space through his eyes.
The comic book art seems stylish although the stories are not always as mature as the nature of the drawings. Diana Marsh’s Saving Halloween is a fun exception however, combining cute characters and an inviting storyline without the guns, hookers and billionaire crime lords.
Besides the aforementioned mediums, expect to see graphic designers, furniture makers, sculptors and installation artists create environments teeming with an abundance of ambition that will drown all who enter in a sea of artistic bliss.
2006 Student Commencement Exhibit reception is Sat. May 13 from 5–7 p.m. The show runs through May 14 at MCAD, 2501 Stevens Ave. S., Mpls., 612-874-3700.
For gallery hours call or go to mcad.edu.