Every year the Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design present “5 into 1,” an exhibit featuring work by recent BFA and MFA graduates from Philadelphia’s five art and design schools: Moore College of Art & Design, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Tyler School of Art, University of Pennsylvania and The University of the Arts. The curators for this year’s show are Jamie Brenner and Matt Pembleton.
The spread of the show fills both the Goldie Paley and Levy Galleries with work that ranges from drawing to graphic art to large scale installations and tiny sculptures. There are many artists represented in the show, so it is difficult to highlight the few. Visiting Moore to see everything on display would definitely be advisable.
Ben Panter has a series of three digital montages which he refers to as “Social Status” pieces. They seek to address the identities that many of us cultivate over a variety of digital media like Facebook, Twitter or blogs. How will our interactions with technology affect us personally and as a society? Panter’s images are composite layers of identity which meld into colorful disharmony. With humanity’s information technology in its infancy, these depictions themselves seem like works in progress. They capture many facets of an individual, yet fail to completely define anyone.
Identity and self are also explored in the work of Sarah Gersbach. In “Makeup – me”, Gersbach paints wide, caricatured cosmetic faces onto glass and then photographs herself through this filter. The project seems like a critique of makeup culture and idealness, as well as a desire to be something else. It is tinged with humor, but not quite as much as her accompanying video “Sinkbath.” As the name implies, the artist starts out mundanely washing the dishes, but ultimately winds up in the sink, apparently washing herself. The name of the project alone warrants a chuckle, and after reading the title, the anticipation of the event is palpable and amusing.
Surreal experiments and even stranger results are the product of Samantha Jane Blankley. Her installation is a massive, highly detailed and realistic room complete with a sink, table and family photos. The photos are not quite so normal, however, as the baby in them is the hybrid product of the experiments that are also going on in the Petri dishes and incubators in the space. Blankley’s work addresses issues of family and maternity as well as genetics and scientific research. Culminating from these processes is a child that is half human and half… something else. There is evidence of splicing genes with a hedgehog, and the rat-faced creature that emerges is more than a little disturbing. An installation with a complete and detailed narrative such as this is a rare gem.
One of the most humbly impressive pieces in the show is a small alabaster sculpture by Adam Bush. The form is quite frankly beautiful. It is textured with segments like some type of invertebrate, yet smooth and malleable looking. The title is “9 Positions of the Hand” which adds a human element beyond the artist himself. This form appears in some ways like a ring, the perpetual symbol of unity and completeness which is most often worn on the hand.
Five schools come together to showcase a wide array of art for “5 into 1”. From traditional stone sculpture to conceptual ideas about technology and identity, this cross-section of Philadelphia’s recent grads is a telling and intriguing show, and this review barely scrapes the surface.
Moore College of Art & Design is located at 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway; 215-965-4027; moore.edu.