125 Mason Gross artists show works on variety of subjects


Mason Gross Presents “Between Either and Or," visual arts show


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Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

Once again, art pieces are sprawled across the sectioned gallery-spaces in the Mason Gross Civic Square Building. The works have been gathered for an exhibition, entitled “Between Either and Or,” which opened for viewing Oct. 24 and will run through Nov. 9. The show itself is a rich collection containing the works of 125 artists of different school years and mediums.

While walking around the 4,200-square-foot space, one can find fabrics suspended from the ceiling in the air to meet projections, videos, a couple of blankets of different materials strewn on the floor and paintings, drawings and other works bringing color to the white space of the walls.

Some of the multitudes of artists featured in the gallery, which was curated by the 2018 Mason Gross graduating class, include undergraduate students Blair Schwartz, Usra Attalla, Zahra Bukhari and Luis Romero.

Schwartz’s piece is a sculptural drawing entitled “Safety Blanket no. 1,” which she made lying upon a mattress-topper on the floor of a studio. She crafted it by sprinkling charcoal dust on her feet and stepping all over her drawing.

“My artist statement is that it is made with a combination of chaos and control, so the chaotic element happens, and the control is the reaction to the chaotic element,” Schwartz said. “It was made on the floor, it exists on the floor, it does not belong on the wall. The wire skeleton underneath it is also important to it.”

Topics that were touched upon in the artists’ works include race, gender, politics and sexuality, all through the perspective and medium of each individual artist. This amount of diverse work is certain to leave a gallery-goer with a vast amount of perspectives to sift through his or her thoughts with.

One artist, Bukhari, chose to explore the two dichotomies of the East and the West in a piece utilizing projection that satisfies a visual appetite. Her piece, called “Beyond East and West,” refers to how on a global scale the West is seen as superior and is often described with savory associations, while the East is seen as backward and is associated with poverty, war and oppression. She wanted to emphasize that the two categories are very much interconnected.

“I do that through using very highly stereotypical imagery and having them kind of visually, actually meld into each other to show that there really is a connection between the two,” Bukhari said. “I’m also talking about how we feel like we have to associate with either being from the West or from the East.”

She added that if someone is Muslim-American, this whole East and West dichotomy poses a very interesting question because being Muslim is associated with being Eastern and backward while being American is being associated with the complete opposite.

Something Bukhari enjoyed to see with the show was the variety of links between the works throughout the gallery despite such a broad topic — “Between Either and Or.”

“It really speaks to the student body here at Mason Gross,” she said.

Gracing the wall in the same section of the gallery is the creative and interesting Attalla exhibition, “Where the Lines Shift.” The exhibition consists of four visually-similar images, with foldings that allow for a visual journey. The piece begins with a photo of the artist herself, Attalla, and her sister — if you look at the piece from the left side, you see Usra, and if you look from the right, you see her sister. The second of the four components achieves the same effect with the use of the Mayan Pyramids and the Pyramids of Giza.

“As the piece goes on, it gets darker in color. The next one is a Native American, and on the next side, it’s a Victoria’s Secret model, so it’s supposed to show cultural appropriation. The (last) one after that is the Olympics protest, and then after that, it is the recent football protest,” Attalla said.

Attalla’s pieces began from the left to the right, first with entertainment, moving toward bringing serious topics to light.

In the center main gallery, a painting by Romero entitled “Untitled” rests upon the wall. It was inspired by the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida, and it focuses heavily on the ocean.

“It has a dark-blue background and pixelated brush strokes. The blue represents the ocean. For me, the ocean is really beautiful. The red pixellations are like a mystery. If you stand back a couple of feet, you kind of get a sense of what you’re going to see, but at the same time, it looks blurry. I wanted the viewer to experience that when they actually see the painting,” Romero said.

Romero wants people to experience the ocean, and he wants people to see that sometimes it is hard to see what one has until it is lost.

He noted that he found the work of many of his peers featured in the gallery to be successful creative expressions.

“It’s really great to see that the students put their thoughts into words,” he said.

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Abigail Lyon

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