By Liz Hitchcock
Martin Museum of Art opened a new show on Tuesday,showcasing four very different professional artists.
In the first gallery, the ceramic works of Phillip Ahnen are being shown. The series is composed of sculptures made from wood-fired stoneware representing the “period prior to planned obsolescence,” according to Ahnen’s artist statement.
Most of the pieces Ahnen presents are flat, rectangular objects, basket-like forms or sculptures that resemble watering cans. Layered glaze covers every piece with neutral, earth hues.
Apart from the pieces that have been hung on the wall, it seems that if you have seen one, you really have seen them all. The found-object that looks like gauges are the only thing that stands out from the group. Moreover, the rectangle self-portrait is so distant from an actual portrait that it may leave the viewer lost in translation.
In the second gallery, there is an opportunity to view three other artists, each representing a different genre of printmaking.
Andrew DaCaens’ work makes a strong commentary on eating habits and his artist statement said that his work was based around “eating and other rituals surrounding food.”
DaCaens’ work has a pop art feel with solid colors and a minimalist appeal. Both sculpture and monotypes are displayed, and the subjects of the pieces are anywhere from juice boxes to cafeteria trays.
One of the pieces that conveys his goals most clearly is “Family Sized Pop,” a sculpture that portrays a movie style popcorn bag with a silhouette of a family printed on the outside.
In another series, Kent Rush illuminates the differences between man-made objects and nature. Using collotype prints, Rush depicts pictures of trees, brush, stones and concrete. The compositions are lackluster and there is not much to draw the eye to any of these mediocre works.
Saving the best for last, Dennis Olsen’s intaglio prints are the most interesting of the show, by far.
Olsen’s series showed human emotions through an array of abstracted and deformed faces. Using only lines, dots and patterns, Olsen captures each facial expression accurately.
Not only is each piece unique, but they all use elements of design effectively. The use of negative space gives the prints a feeling of minimalism and the skewed faces bring an abstract view on human feelings.
Overall, if you are interested in lackluster and trite artwork, stop by and take your time, but if not, I would simply bypass everything but Olsen’s work. The show will be up until Feb. 26.