Since commentator Lindsey Herkommer-DeVries works at the WSU School of Art, Design, and Creative Industries, guest arts commentator Bill North, the Executive Director of the Salina Arts Center, reviewed the 20th faculty biennial exhibition at the WSU school.
University art faculty exhibitions are tricky affairs. These annual or biennial displays serve to showcase recent research and take stock of a faculty’s current interests. The art in such exhibitions is not bound by a common theme, subject, or sensibility. Rather, inclusion is a matter of working for the same employer.
Given this, art faculty exhibitions often appear disjointed and visually cacophonous. Happily, this is not the case with the 20th Biennial Exhibition of Wichita State University’s School of Art, Design, and Creative Industries. It’s currently on view at the Ulrich Museum of Art on the WSU campus.
The objects in this rich, diverse, and thoughtfully installed gathering of art keep good company with one another. A commitment to process, an insistence on the well-made, and a devotion to serious play are the unifying threads. There is something here for every eye and interest, from the whimsical to the highly conceptual.
The work is strong throughout the exhibition, but that of one artist in particular warrants special mention. Visiting Distinguished Professor Larry Schwarm’s large-scale, photographic portraits are astonishing. They fill the frame with more visual and psychological information than one can imagine capturing in a single exposure. Schwarm’s portrait of the poet Albert Goldbarth is rendered with a painterly hyper-reality that seems beyond the camera’s capabilities. It is simply breathtaking.
The exhibition is on view at the Ulrich Museum of Art through August 23.