On Friday, March 7, dozens of people elbowed their way into Ashmore Gallery for the F/5 Visual Impact opening reception. The exhibit featured the capstone work of five Armstrong seniors: Margie “M.A.” Bach, Jenny Fitch, Rachel Greneker, Jennifer Hardee and Rachel Sawyer.
Each of the artists wore black dresses and red heels to show solidarity and support for each other. The girls, all seniors graduating in the spring, brought a variety of pieces to the gallery, each strong enough to stand alone but still blending seamlessly.
Rachel Greneker showed intricately cut paper pieces layered on colorful backgrounds. She included a piece of cork that had small blades pressed into it, along with a note that read, “This display is a collection of all the X-acto blades used to create this exhibit.”
Jennifer Hardee, focusing on graphic design, presented branding interpretations for local companies. Fellow graphic design student Rachel Sawyer also brought brand designs, including elements of a magazine and a T-shirt logo as well as a poster series for fonts.
Jenny Fitch, a photographer, showed a variety of photographs from color to black and white. She brought a huge photo of an American flag, reflecting her military past, and described herself as an “unexpected artist” in her artist’s description.
M.A. Bach brought a variety of pieces, from photography to pastel paintings to ceramic sculptures. She spoke of how mythology influenced her, as did an old gnarled tree on Skidaway, which was the subject of several of her pieces.
Artwork adorned the walls and ceramic pieces sat precariously on tables in the middle of the gallery, but the most eye-catching piece by far was in the front window. “Swallowing the Ocean in a Single Gulp” by Bach was a huge sculpture of a six-armed Indian goddess, painted bright blue and adorned with gold jewelry. She held a cell phone, took a selfie, wore earphones, and had her laptop by her side. The statue drew lots of attention from the guests, who marveled at the color and size.
At this show, there were no weak entries. Each piece stood out for its remarkable detail and effort as well as aesthetic quality. The range of the pieces presented also spoke to the variety of uses for art. The graphic design packages presented by Hardee and Sawyer showed the practicality of art and how pervasive art is in our daily lives. The diversity of Sawyer’s pieces proves just how versatile graphic designers can be.
The artists also seemed to focus on process and journey, both explicitly and subtly. Greneker’s X-acto blade piece represented the duration of time spent on her artwork. Bach’s pieces showed, along with a broad artistic range, the progression of her style. Armstrong professor of photography Linda Jensen noted that Bach’s photographs came from her intro class, an impressive feat considering the technical level of the photos.
These themes of progress suit the show well, since the artists will graduate from Armstrong in less than two months.
The F/5 Visual Impact show will remain at Ashmore Gallery until March 14, so be sure to see these beautiful pieces before the show ends.