The 2023 Student Art Exhibition is a showcase of student art pieces from the University of Maine The exhibit is in Lord Hall and will be open until April 28.
The showcase has a variety of styles, techniques and perspectives that students put out. Upon walking into the exhibit, there are a number of etchings and acrylic paintings immediately inside.
In this opening section, there is a piece by Joshua Pease titled “Across the Field.” The work is made of cardboard with cut pieces depicting a pick-up truck on a farm.
While this is the first glimpse inside the exhibit, those passing by Lord Hall’s front may have already seen into the exhibit. A sculpture by Brooke Soctomah sits next to the gallery’s window and can be seen from the outside. The sculpture, titled “Dyslexia,” uses books and steel. In it, steel men traverse hollowed-out books, climbing around, in and on them.
Further into the main room, the walls are lined with larger pieces, mostly paintings. The floor has ceramic works and other sculptures on pedestals. Viewers can go through the room in whatever order they wish, going towards whatever draws their eye.
In the ceramics section is a vase-like piece titled “Infested” by artist Kathleen Greenlaw. The piece features the main flesh-colored piece with ceramic worms weaving in and out, leaving it riddled with holes and trails of blood. While being somewhat grotesque in concept, the piece has a wonderful use of color and attention to detail.
Also in this main section is the mixed media sculpture “Rat King” by Jenna McGrath. It is a visually interesting piece, being a rat made out of trash and other objects. The rat wears a crown and stands atop a pizza box. Receipts, electric cords and a juul are scattered around its feet. The rat holds a sign that reads “I Eat What U Throw Away!”
Looking down in this area reveals a collection of wire sculptures by a number of artists. Those with knowledge of pop culture and video games may recognize a familiar form.“3d model of Creeper Plushie” from Claudia Matsumoto sits atop a low platform. It is joined by a handful of other wire sculptures from others.
Moving away from the inner floor and towards the room’s walls, there are a number of portraits, most in acrylic. Being by a number of artists, there are self-portraits as well as portraits of others. These make up one corner of the wall space.
In the painting section is Alexander Levesque’s “Hyena Humor,” which is done in oil on canvas. The piece is colorful and striking, featuring a multi-colored depiction of a hyena laughing. Stark red wording reads “Ha! Ha! Ha!” and stands out against the rest of the painting.
Across from this is Lily McLaughlin’s “Bird and Peonies.” The woodcut uses a black to red gradient against the print of flowers and a two-headed bird.
While it may go unnoticed at first, there is a second part to the Lord Gallery in the form of a small walled-off section to the left of the entrance. Once you see the entry it’s hard to ignore, as a sculpture on the floor is sure to entice viewers in. Kal Bailey’s “Solace” is a ceramic raccoon. The racoon sits on the floor, knitting, and is worth a close-up look. Small scale-like pieces of ceramic make up the racoon’s fur, giving it texture.
Also in this room is a unique piece by Brooke Soctomah. Titled “Hidden Gem,” the piece is made of granite and bronze. A sizable chunk of dark stone has a detailed metal leaf rising out of it.
The art exhibit was juried by Timothy Peterson. Peterson was in charge of choosing exactly which pieces would be in the Student Art Exhibition. He is also the executive director and chief curator at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. He has been a curator for a number of other museums before his current position.