Art Shmart

Nikki Sansone

I recently lost my virginity having finally seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for the fist time. I realize the oversight might perhaps be any given college student’s biggest faux pas, although I’m still not sure whether this comes before or after not being able to quote Family Guy and recite the amount of minutes necessary to nuke Easy Mac off the top of your head.

Watching Fear and Loathing is a lot like what I imagine it’d feel like to be candy-flipping in an arcade with the lights turned up and a live Tiesto concert happening in your ears when all you want to do is smoke cigarette, after cigarette, after cigarette, after cigarette…But I digress. As is the case with most first times, watching Fear and Loathing was uncomfortable, titillating and all at once strangely familiar. As if just last semester I had been through this strange rite of passage. Oh wait, I had.

For myself and the eight other senior arts concentrators in Assistant Professor of Art & Art History Cary Peppermint’s ARTS 405, a film like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas can be nothing more than a nostalgic reminder of the pains and pleasures of participating in your very own art show. Building on last semester’s work-in-progress show “POWER/PLAY,” Jamie Breedlove, Mary Gaynin, Joe Madres, Alyssa Mayo, Zachary McCollum, Doris Yen, Xing Zhou, Lee Sloan and yours truly will be bombarding the quiet sanctuary of the Clifford Gallery in preparation for the highly-anticipated senior arts show. Like an army of artsy Hunter S. Thompsons, we will come armed with coffee and stimulants, unshowered, unshaved, busy with the business of relocating the material love-children of our creative and intelligent capacities.

This part of the process is always a haze of urgency and self-doubt – is the white of that wall too white? Are my pencil lines too pencil-y? Should I just kill myself now? – a tedious week of measuring and re-measuring, making sure everything is just right; checking and double-checking that no corner of your gallery space has gone unconsidered. The delicate ecosystem of the art display is under constant threat of its own semiotics: just one misplaced item, one inch too far over, and what you once thought was a picture of a flower is now the visual anthem for a particularly viral form of anti-patriarchy. With such a task at hand, any and every space becomes a veritable pressure cooker, as if the Colgate campus has magically transformed itself into the narcotics convention and each of us has been handed a suitcase full of drugs. I think at the end of the day, we can all sympathize with that a bit.

“The show will be eclectic, vibrant, and at times unpredictable – all the ingredients for a vital art experience,” Professor Peppermint wrote. “I have worked with the senior art majors across two semesters…it has been exciting for me to see the students’ ideas and practices develop. There is a real sense of commitment and community among this group. They were not afraid to immerse themselves in the study of contemporary art and theory and then attempt to integrate those lessons into their practice. The seniors are employing informed, creative problem-solving that is evident in their works for the exhibition.”

The show proves to be a unique exploration of mediums, materials and concepts from every reach of the academic mind. Little Hall will be filled with the art projects. Lee Sloan occupies the window alcove on the second floor of Little Hall with his “Organic Crossbreed,” with Zachary McCollum’s sculpture-come-performance only a few feet further.

McCollum described his work as “a kind of futurist fetishization of the corporate consumer day job, for fifteen minutes the mundane and droning life of the subject is glorified by being transformed into the subject of an artwork; the cubicle machine becomes a pop-inspired factory, and Mr. Warhol’s promise comes true …as viewers are drawn to observe him and for a brief moment, he is famous.”

Downstairs Jamie Breedlove will display a towering wall installation made of stretched steel wool. Joe Madres will be flooding one corner of the gallery with white sand, displaying domestic items ritualistically coated in sand and organized lines of hot glue. Xing Zhou covers canvases in a sheer material to allow only partial viewing into her oil cultural composites, while Mary Gaynin warps our perspective by capturing vivid images of sexuality and violence through Barbies and action figures.

“It’s a contradiction of sorts. It aims to explore the illogical subconscious through a highly controlled and conscious manner. Every morning I wake up and jot down as much as I can remember from that night’s dreams on Post-It notes…these raw records are then used as a point of departure for my drawings,” Doris Yen said of the surrealistic ink drawings.

“If Freud’s right, I’m probably exposing more of myself through my work than I’d like too, showcasing all my deepest, darkest desires and fears out on a wall like that… but then again, I could always play the random-neurological-firings card,” Yen added.

Alyssa Mayo will be showcasing maniacally detailed wallpaper, replacing flowery-wholesome-ness with the brutal images of war and violence. I will be taking over the Clifford viewing room with a three-part video installation done in high contrast featuring both me and you – courtesy of life webcams.

With this radical array of artistic endeavors, one might say an experience like this is best seen through Roal Duke’s Mesclun-colored glasses (or perhaps it is the product of such glasses? Some things are best left unsaid.) In any case, to quote the great Duke himself.

“The possibility of physical and mental collapse is now very real. No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride.”