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8 Cool Things We Saw During ASU Grant Street Open Studios in Phoenix

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Over the weekend, The Art Grads (TAG), a new student organization at Arizona State University, hosted a two-day open studio event at Grant Street Studios. These emerging artists displayed their work in pop-up exhibitions throughout the building, had a red-tag sale with affordable art, and opened up their studios to the public. If there have been ASU open studio events before, they haven't been as comprehensive and inviting as this one.

The building hosts a large group of artists from varying disciplines -- fibers, intermedia, sculpture, painting, drawing and photography. The only departments that aren't there yet are printmaking and ceramics, but their work was on display in a pop-up exhibition. We picked out some of our favorite things that we saw.

See also: Tempe Artist Clarita Lulić on Marriage and Its Influence on Her Work

Bound sculptures

Rachel Goodwin's practice consists of drawing and sculpture. The sculptures in her studio are commercial goods bound in bright fabrics. They command attention in the same way that a product would. This texture of artificiality and sheen that mimics contemporary life is also seen in her two-dimensional work. Patterns clash with bright colors creating a noise that simultaneously pulls us in and pushes us away.

Pillow wall

Courtney Richter's studio featured precarious sculptural forms and the beginnings of a wall of cloud-like pillows. These repeated cloud forms will be paired with appropriated footage from self-help videos on YouTube. Richter's work in fibers hints at the elusiveness of completeness. The materials she uses, such as cording from hardware stores or synthetic sheer fabric, are retooled as those of comfort and stability.

The American dream in limbo

The figurative sculptures in John Tuomisto-Bell's studio are trapped within the confines of American idealism. Multiple sculptures like these comprise Tuomisto-Bell's installation, A Little Slice of Heaven, for INFLUX at The Pavilions at Talking Stick. These heads are in an existential crisis of sorts, floating in limbo together. Each patch of grass and white picket fencing represents a notion of the American dream -- having a family and a place to call home.

Map-like collages

The collages of Travis Ivey on display in his studio utilize the patterns of security envelopes. The patterns themselves are beautiful (they'd make for a great button-up shirt) and Ivey manipulates them in an intuitive way that ultimately transforms them. Several of the works resemble maps, specifically topographic maps. These repurposed envelopes have layers of history and travel, but they're not necessarily connected to a particular site. Ivey's collaging turns them into a landscape of sorts, connecting them to sense of place.

Humanity close up

On display in the photography MFA student's studio was a video installation and a sculptural display of works on paper depicting birds. The video was a part of a series of "vignettes" that examine the animality of being human. These projected closeup shots of the body remove the notion of identity and explore something more wild and carnal about the human species. Czajkowski's thesis exhibition, "unBecoming" will take place at Step Gallery in the beginning of May, so we will have the opportunity to see this work again very soon.

Negative history

First-year Intermedia MFA student Alison Sweet displayed a collection of family negatives that she inherited, scanned, and printed. Many of the photographs were taken by her great grandfather, dating back to at least the early 20th century. Sweet is in the beginning stages of this body of work that engages with both a personal and collective history. One diptych on display in her studio featured a picture of her grandfather paired with the text "this is me but it's not so good" written on the back. It's the photograph that introduced him to the woman he would eventually marry and it felt familiar to how we engage on social media today.

Invasive biology

Hakyoung Kim's ceramic work in the pop-up exhibition is physically present in the space and as documentation in public. The ceramic, a organic bodily form reminiscent of a microorganism of some kind, is installed in a crack in the sidewalk. This strange, biological form disrupts everyday space, like bacteria invading the body. Her ceramics appear to be feeding off of the pavement, growing wherever they please.

Architectural decay

In the pop-up exhibition featuring students whose studios are not located at Grant Street Studios, Payton's work quietly addresses structures and barriers. The two panels installed on the wall are either in progress or a state of decay, reminiscent of the bones of a building. These objects speak to how our own barriers our constructed, both by ourselves and the systems surrounding us.

Along with the art on display, graduate students hosted demos on techniques that they utilize. Buzzy Sullivan held tintype portrait sessions on Friday evening and John Tuomisto-Bell demonstrated methods for bronze casting on Saturday afternoon. As a whole, the event offered a much-needed glimpse of emerging work being made in Arizona. Grant Street Studios is a bit off of the beaten path, so events like this have the power to foster connections with the larger community in Phoenix. Luckily, TAG plans to continue hosting open studio events in the future. We hope this becomes a tradition.

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