Reviews

ASU Artists Put Contemporary Twist on Traditional Materials in "New Art Arizona"

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Works featured in "New Art Arizona" are exhibited in three small rooms transformed into gallery spaces. The juxtaposition created by Donohoe's specific placement of these pieces within them magnifies the artworks' individual and collective power.

Most striking is the contrast between adjacent works by Zachary John Valent and Travis Rice in South Gallery III. Rice's acrylic and reflective vinyl Zing, featuring bold-colored geometrics built using 3-D modeling, screams modern. Valent's trio of fossilized telephones from pre-cell phone days shouts ancient. The contrast is startling, and effective.

There's a delightful irony, too. Despite the contemporary candy-coating colors in Rice's work, and the relatively new technology used to create them, they're fundamentally an assemblage of geometric shapes that hail from ancient times. Conversely, the objects seemingly fossilized by Valent are relatively recent inventions within the long arc of human history.

By showing them side by side, Donohoe invites viewers to consider the inherent fallacies within human conceptions of time.

Valent uses concrete and stain to give additional objects -- including incandescent light bulbs, a pair of metal-rim spectacles, and a textbook -- a fossilized appearance. According to the artist's statement, they're meant as "representations of common devices, now growing obsolete, signifying the advancement of our culture."

His Stratum, comprising 12 parallel wood columns filled with layers with worn paper, suggests not only the general trend within modern society for discarding perfectly functional older items in favor of new ones, but also the relegation of some very specific practices -- including reading, writing, and perhaps even journalism and creating handmade photographic images -- to the periphery of American life.

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble