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Students showcase work at Boston Young Contemporaries exhibition

By Michelle Kim

Section: Arts

August 22, 2014

On July 18, Boston Young Contemporaries held its ninth annual juried exhibition, which highlights the work of MFA students from the New England area. Held in Boston University’s 808 Gallery, the exhibition began in 2006 by an assembly of Boston University MFA students. It showcases works in painting, photography, video, sculpture, printmaking and installation art.

Among more than 70 students from schools like Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale School of Art, there are five Brandeis alumni: Ricardo De Lima, Eung-Sun Lee, Shona McAndrew, Aliza Sternstein and Julia Wolfe, who were selected to participate in this year’s BYC exhibition.

De Lima, who is currently the resident artist for Sübsamsøn (hosted by Samson Projects Gallery in the South End of Boston), briefly attended Brandeis’ post-baccalaureate studio art program. He submitted two installations. The first, “Cabo E,” is named after an Afro-Cuban Yoruba salutation to Chango, the transsexual and intersexual god of fire, lightning and thunder. The installation, composed of gold-plated resin on top of a stained oak table, is simple and elegant. His second installation, titled “How to tame a wild tongue,” is named after a quote from Gloria Anzaldúa, a feminist, queer and Chicana cultural theories scholar, in her book “Borderlands.” Corn and vibrant red habanero peppers, half-dipped in gold, rest on top of a dark, roughly-cut wooden plank. “[I was inspired by] a total lack of moments of magic and mystery in daily life as well as some very uncomfortable encounters with estranged labor, (my own and otherwise),” said De Lima.

Chosen alongside De Lima was Julia Wolfe, who also is a student of the Brandeis’ post-baccalaureate program. While she doesn’t have a particular way of describing her style, she is interested in the work of Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, Julie Mehretu and Mark Bradford, all abstract artists. “Though my paintings tend to lean more toward abstract rather than representational, I am drawn to elements in the landscape (both natural and manmade objects and patterns) and will often take from their formal qualities (shape, color, texture, etc.) or place them next to other forms,” Wolfe said. “I find that this creates another world which is made up of things that I see regularly, all combined and layered within one world inside the rectangle of the canvas. I hope that the viewer is drawn to each painting and slows down enough to wander through the marks and stains and lines so that they can stumble onto perhaps more surprising moments, finding small treasures in that world,” she stated. Her BYC submission is a seemingly-multidimensional painted canvas with various shades of lilac blue. Wolfe’s work looks simple at first glance, but contains multiple layers of movement and shapes upon closer examination.

Shona McAndrew, a Paris-born artist, enrolled in the Brandeis post-baccalaureate program immediately after her senior year here and is now headed to Providence, Rhode Island, to get her MFA at Rhode Island School of Design. Intrigued by realism, McAndrew is not aiming to make her paintings photo-realist. A lover of portraiture (she suspects this stems from her love for psychology), she looks at artists such as Lucian Freud, Alice Neel and Hope Gangloff. All three of her submitted works, “Hannah,” “Last Night” and “Kassandra,” are watercolor on paper and are meticulously and spectacularly detailed.

“I love paintings that make your eyes go big, where you feel like it’s a visual adventure, little secrets and hidden imagery that takes time to discover. I would love it if my paintings had that effect on the viewer,” McAndrew said. As for inspiration, she thinks that it is “very much the wrong word to use” because it “implies a more romantic process than what really goes on behind the scenes of art making.” She picked the three pieces because they “stand the closest to the imagery I am drawn to the most.”

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