UC Davis boasts an art department that allows students to explore their creative abilities in a multitude of ways. The UC Davis Basement Gallery is one such space.
The student-run, student-organized art gallery, located in the basement of the Art Building, aims to create a professional and sophisticated space for students to showcase their work. The Winter 2012 Basement Gallery Awards show took place on Tuesday.
Robin Hill, a professor of art at UC Davis, pointed out that the show included works from only one-third of the students that comprise the art major.
“These students are all hungry and this is really the cream of the crop,” Hill said of the work displayed at the gallery. Ariana Young, an art history major and co-director of the show, added, “This is for people who are really serious about showing their work.”
The works shown included sculptures, digital media and paintings, among others. Students’ work displayed here will be judged over the coming week by the entire full-time faculty of the arts department. Students are competing for coveted scholarships and opportunities to work at the New York Studio School, Art Studio in Paris and the French Riviera, and Yale University.
The show itself was set up Salon-style. The Salon is a tradition that dates back to the 1670s when the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture organized its first public show of the work of recent graduates. Paintings and sculptures were displayed close to one another in a limited space.
The Basement Gallery show, which takes place every year during Winter quarter, embodied these elements of the Salon with live music and the artists’ works clustered together in close quarters.
“A lot of the artists wanted the right to arrange their own work,” said Thelonious Elliott, a senior art studio major who collaborated with other students to put the show together.
Two of Elliott’s own pieces, titled “Apposed as opposed to posed,” appeared at the entrance to the gallery as starkly white panel squares painted with acrylic primer.
“It is a physical body of paint creating the illusion of space. I used squares because it’s just an unloaded way to talk about it,” Elliott said of his pieces. “This took about 90 hours.”
Christopher Jones, a junior arts studio and technocultural studies major, also has his work showcased at the gallery. Jones said he was inspired by “the institution of the suburb.” His sculpture, a 4×4 piece of wood putty with fiber glass installation, represents the decomposition of suburbia.
“It’s decomposing and kind of accumulating at the same time. I was also really inspired by the violence in housing material,” Jones said.
“I don’t really subscribe to the idea of the artist in his studio — I think art is really a visual argument and discussion. It doesn’t work unless it’s a community,” said Jones of the show.
The exhibition is almost an amalgam of many streams of consciousness, as the ideas conveyed vary far and wide.
Emmeline Yen, another artist who is exhibiting her work at the gallery, says she was inspired by repetition.
“Repetition is aesthetically pleasing in an odd and strange way; it’s almost gross,” said Yen. Her sculpture “Les chats,” brings the element of grotesqueness in repetition to life as the orderly polyurethane sculpture of many cats seems to melt to the floor.
The exhibition features the work of about 50 artists from UC Davis and will be held in the Basement Gallery through Feb. 24.
SASHA SHARMA can be reached at email@example.com.