Sophomore Slump

The exhibition Sophomore Slump displayed at the University of Oregon’s LaVerne Krause Gallery highlights the conceptual and technical diversity of the second year MFA artists. These artists present their art of disparate mediums ranging from two-dimensional painting to multi-media installation, running the gamut of humor, self-exploration, and commentary.

The show’s highlights come from artist Ron Linn and Joseph Moore whose works exemplify the contrasting focuses and intentions inherent in the show. Linn’s multi-media installation “mount saint” acts as the show’s front piece, its blend of two- and three-dimensionality ideally exhibited to draw the viewer in, even from outside the gallery. Despite its large size the work is intimate, the altered photographs and carefully place tabletop objects lending a personal touch with an almost vulnerable quality. Exhibited next to this is Moore’s standing figure, “A Spiritually Committed Optimist”, which conversely jars the viewer in its disturbing humanoid form, acting as a silent, permanent, and slightly disturbing spectator in the gallery space. Made from “other people’s stuff,” the work has an uncanny appearance which simultaneously invokes humor and unease in the viewer.

Perhaps one of the most perplexing pieces is Amanda Hampton’s wooden structure “Altered” which is a closed form almost hinting at the shape of a monolith but with a few carefully placed holes. It doesn’t feel out of place inside the space but in some ways feels mysterious as if transplanted from a place unknown. Chelsea Couch’s video pieces explores a variety of complex themes in relation to the contemporary body. Lee Asahina’s playful painting commands an entire wall thanks to it’s diverse texture and her color prowess. Meril Wallace’s sculptural wall piece, “Repercussions”, uses metal and line to hint at both tree rings and the material used to bring them down. Mary Morgan’s floor sculpture decodes itself upon further investigation from multiple view points and feels like a shift in both subject matter and material use from her previous work.  Esther Wang’s use of material feels refined and pointed. Her use of color interjected color paired with the familiar shape of an opened an avocado resting upon a fragile crust of off white, almost taupe tinted gemstones. Andrew Campbell’s fabric based works are the quietest moment in the space and while the works borrow visual language from painting, sculpture, collage, and sewing– they ultimately escape definitive categorization.

Sophomore Slump features the works of Lee Asahina, Andrew Campbell, Chelsea Couch, Amanda Hampton, Ron Linn, Joseph Moore, Mary Morgan, Meril Wallace, and Esther Wang. The works displayed serve to promote the incongruous strengths of this distinct group. present a promising future for these artists.

Words by Allie Mickle and Jonathan Bagby

Laverne gallery w- units