Go ‘inside’ the portrait at Walsh

“Portraiture: Inside Out,” the latest exhibit at the Walsh Gallery, challenges the idea of a portrait as merely a figure’s head and shoulders. In the exhibit, no such image can be found.

The audience must instead look not just at the people portrayed but into those people as well. By looking into the psyches of those portrayed in these pieces, the viewer is able to develop a deeper connection to the artist and the subject presented.

Ruth Ballester, Whitney Fehl and Lauren Thompson, the curators of the exhibit, wrote that “many contemporary artists now seek to expose private identity in a frank and conceptually dynamic manner.”

The artists showcased in Walsh Gallery manage to do this using a variety of different mediums, achieving fascinating results.

Ballester, Fehl and Thompson explained, “In order to effectively reveal the palpable essence of an absent individual, artists must leave room for viewer interpretation; this encourages viewers to become psychologically invested in the art.”

Take, for example, the single channel video installation by Greg Leshe titled “Parts of My Runway.” With this installation it seems as though the artist does not want the viewer to simply stand and stare at an image of him as it moves across a screen; rather, Leshe seems to want the viewer to follow him.

His work of art is not something flat and uninviting but a kind of friendly experience that he wishes to share with the viewer. Viewers should readily engage in the experience immediately after walking into Walsh Gallery.

Yet another engaging piece is Pat Lay’s “Transhuman Personae #11.” This sculpture, made from fired clay, computer parts, cables and wire, seems to send the message that, in today’s world, the person portrayed is almost completely eclipsed by who they are online. Or is Lay’s point that there really is a person behind each webpage?

While the message is open to interpretation, it is clear that Pat Lay’s work is intriguing.

While many of the pieces are quirky and amusing, there are some that are tinged with sadness, and some that are even a bit disturbing.

Ryan Roa’s piece “You Make Me Want to be Better” speaks volumes with a simple mirror covered in red lipstick, while a few of Tonja Torgerson’s pieces seem to show that the subject depicted is hiding its pain.

“Portraiture: Inside Out” is an exhibit that is not only meant to be viewed but to be experienced, and the art displayed not only presents a myriad of emotions but a slew of different ideas about what portraiture really is.

The thoughtful and creative effort put into producing these works cannot only be viewed in a cursory visit, as Jesse Eric Schmidt’s sculpture “Expenditure” goes to show but must be contemplated slowly. One should take the time to observe the different mediums utilized and absorb the different colors and presentations, and soon an understanding of the work can be reached.

The exhibit will be featured at the Walsh Gallery until April 1.

Andrea Aguirre can be reached at andrea.aguirre@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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