The Blackwood Gallery has unveiled the first of two graduate exhibitions of the UTM and Sheridan Art and Art History 2019 class. You Look the Other Way was cultivated by the FAH451 class Curating Now, and features eleven artists in total. The second half is entitled Now Look Me in the Eyes and comes later this semester, completing the entire exhibition for the Art and Art History graduates.

Focusing on the idea of exploration within their own identities, the artists have chosen to manifest their interactions with the spaces and environments they come in contact with every day. There is an urge to be artistically responsible in this exhibit: they attempt to find an important way to realize how our voices can be brought up through history, art, and media. Their installations perform this obligation to its viewers. We are directed to it in every sense of the idea.

I am directed to a blueprint image on the right side of the exhibit. The screen print is produced by Paige Julian, who has single-handedly produced her views on relationships by showcasing different rooms in the same home. The piece is entitled “Blueprint,” because coincidently, that’s exactly what it is. The rooms on the blueprint are together on the surface but separate, each telling their own story within one structure. The blueprint is of Julian’s own home, and while these lines and illustrations look the same on the outside, they should be considered as a space where different things can happen to only one person. 

These ideas are manifested in a similar way in the other installations, although most of the other works find a way to achieve identity exploration a little differently. They strive to maintain the same theme but authentically showcase their individualities.

One installation that takes up a good majority of the exhibit is Katherine Frank’s “Reverse Portraits,” whose work is not one that you would expect straight from its title. However, this is the very essence of the piece and if you’ve been stumped, then Frank’s motive has been fulfilled.

Her series of photographs run from one end of the wall to the other, depicting individuals from the neck up, turned around so that our faces are not met with theirs. We are met with figures we don’t have the privilege of meeting face first—literally. This point is made clear when we realize that Frank’s photographs spark the curiosity we face meeting new people and even meeting old friends. We never really know people just on the surface. We can’t distinguish someone from the looks of their faces or by their demeanors.

Near the back wall, I am met with Isabella Venditello’s “I HEART MUM,” a piece of abstract work that is a far cry from one idea or the other. She includes both the ugliness and the beauty we find within our lives and the good and bad of it all. In life, we are met with negative and positive powers within ourselves that are often difficult to define. However, Venditello does her best while acknowledging these notions. As many works of abstract pieces encourage us to do, her piece is left open to our minds and to our experiences that shape our understanding of the work.

The graduates and their artworks represent what they may have not even known about themselves. Their expressions and projections of their lives seek to define their identities in a multitude of ways. We are met with works that challenge their views on the world, as well as their takes on themselves.

You Look the Other Way runs at the Blackwood Gallery until March 30th.

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