Four artists between “Art and Earth”


Story by Yashowanto Ghosh, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy Yashowanto Ghosh

The Aquinas College Art Department’s last show of the academic year, featuring four students who are all finishing their B.F.A. degrees this semester, opened at the Art & Music Center Gallery on Sunday, April 14.

Two of the graduates, Alyssa Khalifa and Caroline Cook, are painters; Olivia Hoffman is a potter; Anna Cecchini is a photographer.  The work of all four artists is breathtaking—and strikingly different.

Khalifa’s paintings have a clear focus upon the human female form.  She says, in different parts of her artist’s statement, both that the act of painting quiets her mind and that there is an anxiety centered around the figure she paints; the gap of contradiction between the peace within the artist’s mind and the anxiety surrounding the painted figure is the space inhabited by her work.  I thought, too, that her art involves, as one of its essential elements, a somewhat obsessive pursuit of just the right colour, the way a writer might chase le mot juste.

Cook’s paintings also feature the human figure, but she is firmly focused upon the context into which she places her human figures:  they are in water. The human figures are not her subject, and, as I see her work, the water is not her subject either; she seems to be really painting the relationship between the figures and the water—what the figures and the water do to each other, i.e. the swimming of figures in the water and the carrying of the figures by the water.  I should add that the spatial domination of the water turns her pieces into magic tricks of colour temperature, reminiscent of what Gainsborough once pulled off in The Blue Boy.  Cook’s art appears to have come together to an even sharper point than what she showed in Lowell last semester.

Hoffman’s pottery, in contrast, eschews the human figure, preferring, as she says in her artist’s statement, “organic forms and natural patterns.”  Indeed, she claims “a sustained, direct relationship between art and the earth,” and her pieces foreground not just visual form, but also the texture of the clay, as it would only be perceptible to fingers.  In addition to clay, she has a couple of bronze pieces, which look good enough to start a series.

Cecchini’s photographs have the human figure, but only isolated fragments of it at a time—this serves the purpose of abstraction, which seems to be one of the main goals of Cecchini’s work.  She also does to colour what she does to the human body: She makes images with just one body part repeated in different angles—and just one colour repeated in different values. She also does something that is relatively rare in visual art—and more common in the poetry of certain periods—when she uses a fairly fixed form, that of a kaleidoscope, for her photographs.

The show is open until Commencement—go see the final work of the student days of these four fabulous artists.

Yashowanto GhoshYashowanto Ghosh is a senior with a major in English with a writing emphasis and a minor in Japanese. Jasho is also an alumnus of Aquinas (B.A. German ’11, B.A. Communications ’17).

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