Paintings seeking to be something more

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End of Nowhere, Tynan Kerr and Andrew Mazorol, 2010

various paints on canvas, 66″x54″

Shows presenting the work of a group of artists who all received the same fellowship can often feel a bit awkward. The only thing bringing them together is money.

Not so in the case of the MCAD/Jerome Fellowship exhibition, which closes Sunday.

MCAD/Jerome Fellowship Program Director Kerry Morgan says the emerging artists who were picked for this past year’s fellowship have influenced one another:

They have literally been in “fellowship” with one another, and that’s why they were so adamant about mixing their work throughout the gallery, rather than each taking their own section of the room.

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Bag, 2010, by Steven Accola

acrylic on canvas panel, 20″ x 16″

Morgan says something else these artists share is a desire to stretch themselves and their art in new ways.

This show features four painters not satisfied with the traditional practice of painting. I think that as paintings, none of them are content to just be paintings. They want to be objects; there’s a physicality about it. We’re so inundated with images these days, it’s almost as if being two-dimensional isn’t enough anymore.

Indeed, just as the stars of musicals, overcome with emotion, burst into song, these artists have burst into new dimensions. Steven Accola gives you the chair from his studio on which to browse through a book, and one of his paintings still rests on his easel, as though you’re just stopping by for a visit. Tynan Kerr and Andrew Mazorol, who paint collaboratively on the same canvases, make an offering of painted twigs in the middle of the gallery floor.

Caroline Kent, whose work is heavily influenced by a recent trip to Iceland, found that to capture the immensity of the mountainous landscape, she had to leap off the wall.

Cathedral in the Heights, 2010 by Caroline Kent

plaster, wood and colored lights, 72″ x 31″ x 52″

Morgan says what she finds most exciting about the work of this group of fellows is how their work is simultaneously accessible and elusive.

They suck you in with the allure of a storyline, but you never get it. There’s something that draws you in and makes you ask ‘is thjs representational or abstract?’ They’re evocative, and spark your imagination – they’re demanding of the viewer – it’s not like candy that gives you immediate pleasure – you have to work for it.

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Kids, 2010 by Tony Sunder

color video with sound

The pieces involving the most work are likely those by Tony Sunder, which at first glance least resemble paintings. Sunder’s varies dramatically across the room, from a video of kids gleefully racing bikes to a couple of smears of paint on a piece of notebook paper glued to the wall. Sunder says he’s playing with people’s expectations of art:

People are smart enough to know what art is, but of course then they have these wild expectations. They expect literally a “show.” I undercut myself all the time, because I don’t want people to look for me as an authority. I want the viewer to sort of have to make up his/her mind without me.

In his artist statement Sunder wrote “Its not that I believe art does not have power, I just believe that art’s power is only there when there is no language for it.”

The 2009-2010 MCAD/Jerome Fellowship Exhibition runs through Sunday on the MCAD campus in Minneapolis.

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