Beauty is in the eye of the professor

Beauty is in the eye of the professor

By:
09/23/2010

Have you ever taken a snazzy picture of the Potomac from your walk across the Key Bridge and thought “Wow, look how beautiful D.C. is?” Probably. Have you ever thought the same about a photo you took of the grimy outside of a Metro car, or traffic moving through DuPont? Probably not.

And that’s why Roberto Bocci, multimedia artist and Georgetown professor, is innovative enough to display his work in the 2010 Georgetown Faculty Art Exhibition, which is on display in Walsh’s Spagnuolo Gallery now through Oct. 15. In “Streams, Consciousness, and Spaces in Between,” Professor Bocci shows off D.C.’s subtle beauty using an LCD monitor, with urban sounds and a low heartbeat of pulsing percussion serving as the aural backdrop to his installation. Using time-lapsed photographs that show daily and seasonal change, and still images morphing into one another in succession, Bocci breathes a fresh beauty and life into everyday D.C. happenings. But the work’s real originality comes not from the displays of photographs, but from their interactive nature. Using a touch pad, the viewer controls the speed and succession of the images and sounds. The result is a personal, individual connection to the city as it’s seen through Bocci’s lens.

Other faculty artists capture  the art in the everyday, too. Two oil-on-canvas, trompe l’oeil paintings by Professor Sharon Moody, of an open comic book and a partially unwrapped Hershey’s bar, portray common objects with stunningly realistic clarity and dimension. The larger painting, entitled “At Least I’m Keeping the Menace Away from the Earth,” features a replica of a comic in which Superman fends off a villain. The piece is one of a few similar comic book paintings in Moody’s latest collection, which focuses on games and entertainment.

Video screens are in heavy use throughout the exhibit. In some cases, video serves to enhance the experience of the more traditional art forms, such as in Scott Hutchinson’s “Yeah.” This installation features a series of small, but exaggerated, graphite drawings of the artist’s own lips and mouth, a recurring subject in his collections. When these pictures are put together on a small screen, they animate the lips forming the word “yeah” with different intonations. Although the repetitive voice accompanying the display gets tedious after a few minutes of viewing, the originality and craftsmanship are more than enough to compensate for the annoyance.

Alongside the technologically-enhanced displays, the exhibition also features some more traditional pieces. John Morrell’s two blue-wash Parisian landscapes are less initially enticing than some of the other works, but are nonetheless impressive for the artist’s use of pencil and white gouache to add pristine, clear detail to the pictures’ foggier base. “Duet,” by Professor Scip Barnhart and Jody Mussoff, who is not affiliated with Georgetown, features graphite self-portraits of both artists’ faces. All four eyes stare firmly at the viewer, with the woman’s more emphatic expression contrasting the reserved, imperial look of the man. Despite its lack of color or detail, the drawing is gripping and visually appealing, and proves itself one of the collection’s strongest works.

Video screens, commonplace items, and traditional pieces abound in the Art Faculty Exhibition, but in each installation the artist demonstrates his or her own particular artistic voice. And at a school that tends to place emphasis on either international politics or global corporations, it’s refreshing to know that our professors still view our quotidian surroundings with artistic consideration.

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