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Graphic art exhibit does exactly what it set out to do

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, April 19, 2007

You’ll have to forgive my friend Jay. Obviously, he is a philosophy grad student and prone to a sort of theoretical debauchery. But I find it disingenuous and theatrical to trot out linguistic sins like “stale objectivity of Kantian aesthetics” and “aboutness” when measuring the work of so many soon-to-be graduates. The heart of his argument – a breathless caricature of modernism’s belief in the virgin purity of capital-A Art – doesn’t square with the BFA/MFA exhibit.

First of all, few of the studio art projects could be described as heavy-handed political pieces. Consider the work of the artists he knows personally: Meeg Conroy’s rainbow ethnography, Katie Monahan’s meditation on our image-flooded culture, Vanessa Valenzuela’s delicately penciled constellation of family portraits. Mack Russell’s triptych of photographs (the “homosexuality” piece?) is a luminous technical feat.

Second of all, many of the projects he refers to – those regarding worker’s rights, for one – are works of graphic design. The graphic designer has failed if he or she hasn’t unambiguously expressed a message. BFA Carolin Hubscher’s minimal, story-driven work for the Campus Labor Action Project offers a fine example of socially-oriented graphic design that never sinks to crass, in-your-face tactics; rather it appeals to our humanity, by giving the spotlight to workers’ stories, rather than translating treatises onto the canvas, or performing bloodless experiments with craft.

BJ Strew



April 16