During this month’s Art March, should you find yourself at Non-Fiction Gallery, judge Forma kindly. The BFA painting show from SCAD students Kristin Edens and Aoife Estes will find favor with those who understand its purpose as a platform for two artists’ potential rather than a completed body of work.
Though Forma is presented as one exhibition, it is truly two separate shows.
“Forma”, as the show statement explains, is Latin for “for form’s sake.” The stated connection between the two bodies of work is their categorization as artworks concerned primarily with formal elements like color, line, and shape. Those who enjoy their art with a heaping helping of metaphor and a side of narrative will leave Forma disappointed. The focus here could not be more clear, but with little to no conceptual grounding the exhibition feels flat.
The work has been divided in such a way that it feels as though an invisible wall separates the exhibit into two parts; Estes’ laser cut geometric paintings hang on one side, Edens’ starkly monochromatic works on the other. The invitation to compare and contrast feels implicit in this curatorial choice: rigid vs. fluid; colorful vs. colorless; constructivism vs. expressionism. The comparisons are, of course, successful, but viewers will find themselves reaching to find meaning beyond those one-dimensional contrasts.
However, Forma is just the beginning for these two young artists. It is, after all, a BFA show–an exhibition meant to mark and celebrate the start of a career.
Estes’ works show a remarkable aptitude for color theory and a promising understanding of spatial balance and tension. The works have a vintage, mid-century feel–their highly saturated matte hues might belie the burgeoning foundation of a signature aesthetic. Discerning viewers will also notice Estes’ attention to detail: don’t forget to get close to the wall to check out the edges of her paintings; you won’t be disappointed. If only these were larger, with deeper dimensions, the complexity of Estes’ geometric vocabulary would surely stun.
Fans of SCAD professor Todd Schroeder’s work will find Edens a worthy protégé. Though clearly influenced by Schroeder’s sprayed and squee-geed marks, Edens’ works in Forma feel as if they might be her early attempts to develop and fold those techniques into her own personal style. Interesting choices to incorporate negative space and the introduction of some exciting shallow cut-out work in a few of the pieces will leave viewers intrigued to see where Edens might take her work next.
Forma may lack polish, but it is a great opportunity to move away from our often myopic understanding of artistic growth and gain some insight into the long journey young artists embark on to find their aesthetic.
Forma opens at Non-Fiction Gallery on Friday, November 4 with a reception from 6 – 9pm. Join the artists for an informal artist talk on Saturday, November 5 at 1pm.