From Dec. 10 until Jan. 12, Brandeis hosted the Senior Midyear Exhibition in the Dreitzer Gallery, which included a wide variety of pieces created by many talented senior artists.
Rachel Weissman worked with many toys and commercialized objects in her works, creating very unique, overwhelming and playful pieces. One of her works involved a Monopoly board covered in beads and wooden blocks. Below the board is a compartment attached, with beads and random items clumped together inside each block, almost like a composition set up in “I Spy.”
Another one of her pieces involved a lot of popular brands and items. For instance, a huge “Razzles” pillow was placed over the very left lower corner of the canvas. In the center and toward the right hand side of the piece were two Crayola crayons, one yellow and the other blue. In between the crayons was an infant’s toy, with Mickey Mouse characters designed inside each differently shaped button. Finally hidden under all the pink toys (which are reminiscent of Barbie accessories) is a subliminal message: a McDonald’s logo recognizable even through all the tumult.
Even though Weissman’s compositions seems very disorganized and sprawled out, they all had the same scattered toys and board games underneath: paper planes, a racquet, a toy horse, a mouse, chess pieces, a mini basketball net and many other items that had been shrunk from their original sizes. Question marks are traced with marbles around an air hockey board (also smaller than its usual size), asking us to find the connection between the billiards game, the bowling pins and other small signs, smiley face stickers and a figurine of Woody from “Toy Story.” Therefore, the works as a whole seem to be challenging the viewer to try to figure out what is actually going on in every single detail and toy and game that makes our heads go dizzy with curiosity.
Linjie Xu’s (Graphics Editor for The Brandeis Hoot) work also focused on commercialization, but more clearly criticized the technological revolution that plagues society. The inclusion of a knight in modern society is an anachronism that is quite hilarious, as the painting demonstrates how ill equipped the men are in their armor as they struggle to use a computer or phone. The titles are also ironic, with names such as “Apothecary,” “Should’ve taken Public Transport” and “Victory.”
This wasn’t the only theme that was exhibited in the gallery however. There was a lot more diversity, ranging from very picturesque Rococo-style pieces, as with the depictions of young women portrayed walking together in pastel-colored dresses and club outfits, to more abstract Pollockesque and Keith Haring-like compositions.
Yifan He created a metaphoric representation of “Broken Hands.” A beautifully saddening depiction of palms practically surrendering as blood poured out from them, an image that can be interpreted in many different ways. Yifan wasn’t limited to painting only abstract pieces though. She also drew brightly colored realistic portraits and landscapes.
Another terrifyingly haunting piece was Laura Weil’s tribute to Donald Maiden Jr., a black eight-year-old who was shot in the mouth by 46-year-old white man Brian Cloninger. Deniz Dincer’s penny-covered bust also seemed to honor African heritage and culture.
Less serious, but similarly scary is another piece called “SpringFest.” Depicting three people in banana suits, with mischief and evil in their eyes, the festivalgoers look like they are going to raid the place and cause trouble throughout the festival. The dark blue-grayish shadows covering the whole scene is what really make the painting so dreary and foreboding. The item in one of the guy’s hands looks as though he is carrying a weapon, ready to fire, but a closer glance reveals something as harmless as a pom-pom.
Hopefully everyone got a chance to see at least some of the pieces before the gallery closed because the unique works really have become a source of inspiration for many.