Whatchamacallit Thingamajig

In Whatchamacallit Thingamajig, a new art exhibit at Goucher College, eight artists embody fragments of elements that seem familiar but are not easily identified through drawing, collage, paint, mixed media, video, sculpture, and interactive installation.

The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, runs in the Silber Art Gallery on Goucher’s campus from Tuesday, September 3, through Sunday, October 6. The art can be viewed Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. An artists’ reception will be held Friday, September 20, 6-9 p.m. Call 410-337-6477 or visit www.goucher.edu/silber for more information.

Artists Ramsay Barnes, John Bohl, Seth Crawford, Joseph Faura, Sam Gibbons, Jordan Kasey, Nicole Shiflet, and Ailsa Staub, possess a knack for isolating or clustering various images that culminate in captivating and familiar compositions.

Ramsay Barnes is deeply interested in both natural and manmade objects. He wants to understand their purpose. His gasket series demonstrates a desire to translate something of personal interest into a new visual experience that reflects on natural beauty, contradiction, and construction. Barnes’ subjects are sometimes dangerous, yet he desires to make them beautiful. In capturing these oftentimes obscure components, the end result is ambiguous.

John Bohl uses painting as a platform to examine ideas of utopia, kitsch, and romanticism. His work pulls together a wide array of material: modernist painting, Internet imagery, and vintage cartoons. In his compositions, seemingly straightforward objects quickly become tangled in a net of countless references and allusions. His paintings are intended to keep the viewer in flux and force them to examine their environment more carefully.

In his work, Seth Crawford lays out just a sample of fundamental interaction from what he sees as the “Universe of Stuff.” For his Whatchamacallit Thingamajig piece, he uses a cat, colors, a cone, and a large water cooler reminiscent of the ones used at construction sites and youth soccer games to make his statement.

Joseph Faura’s digital prints, drawings, mixed-media collages, animations, and interactive installations playfully highlight the irrationality of celebrity worship and beauty icons, and they poke fun at a hidden polytheistic mythos behind the low art of fashion magazines. His participatory work invites viewers to create collages on glowing orbs, arranging transparent cutouts of animal heads, human body parts, and random objects on overhead projectors.

Sam Gibbons’ paintings are driven by an infatuation with cartoons, comics, and animation. Borrowing from recognizable images, he redraws familiar characters, skewing and contorting their original form. In this way viewers are struck with vague recollection—a shape that suggests a cartoon they may remember but might not be able to pin down. Gibbons’ characters are often placed into violent or sexual scenes, further obscuring the intent of the original source.

Jordan Kasey is interested in the power of a simple composition on a large scale to evoke a sense of monumentality or confrontation. Using imagery that is ambiguous yet familiar, she combines life with lifeless elements—rocks, light, ocean, sky—all entities that are enduring and universal.

Nicole Shiflet is drawn to reinterpretation of found imagery, such as old science textbooks. She forms creatures and situations that tell a story that often can be lost when trying too hard to put into words. So much of what is seen and experienced every day gets tangled in translation from one person’s interpretation to the next. Shiflet’s work shows that’s where humor, beauty, and unique variety lie.

Working primarily in mixed-media construction and assemblage, Ailsa Staub explores the idea and implications of narrative abstract landscape through sculpture. This landscape or environment becomes a hybrid place in which the boundaries between interior and exterior, domestic and outdoors, are blurred. Recognizable materials connote familiar experiences while also calling to question place and purpose.

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