“Dialogue,” showing at the Littman gallery through Oct. 17, is the fifth in a series of faculty exchange exhibitions between PSU and its sister school, the University of Ulsan (UOU) in Korea.
This exhibition marks the first year that student work has been included with a separate show in the Autzen gallery. UOU became PSU’s sister school in 1994. The exhibition began when PSU professor Junghee Lee visited UOU and two Ulsan professors, Eon-bae Ghim and Chang-bin Im, suggested an exchange between the schools’ art departments.
“Dialogue” features works by both Korean and U.S. faculty, contributing to the eclectic nature of the exhibition while simultaneously diluting the experience due to a lack of focus. Subject, medium and tone vary wildly, but a general spirit of experimentation connects most of the pieces.
Many of the most beautiful or interesting pieces invite the viewer into their own textured worlds, such as Yi-pyung Kim’s strangely organic piece “Pavilion,” a digitally manipulated image printed on silk.
Other experiments with materials are playful and creative. “Untitled,” by Se-won Kim, almost begs the viewer to reach out and touch its shag carpet. Wook-Jang Cheung’s aluminum carving “Endless Horizon” feels like a mold of a piece for a larger work. Some texture experiments don’t work as well as others, but you can’t fault these casualties in the pursuit of a unique voice.
Digitally created or manipulated pieces are prevalent as well and these too are varied in their success. Much of the computer artwork feels like early Photoshop experiments and are a little out of place in the new millennium. But others, such as Emily Young’s “Still Life Group,” which bleeds and gestures like a watercolor, begin to transcend their medium.
Their computer-edited counterparts influence some non-digital works in “Dialogue.” Eun-jin Park’s acrylic portrait of Ingrid Bergman titled “Casablanca” references both the past, with its contrasted noir style and subject, and alludes to the future with its pixilated capturing of a memory.
Contemporary art makes an appearance and brings along its traditional blunders. Works like Harrell Fletcher’s untitled snapshot on grid paper might be completely successful in intention, if the intentioned response is boredom.
If the piece is an ironic statement on commercialism, it is unclear, but for some reason a 30-second Nike commercial is looping in the corner of the gallery and even stranger is that it doesn’t stand out.
“Dialogue” isn’t the greatest art show you’ll see this fall, but it is a good opportunity to experience what art faculties in these two countries are oriented towards. That said, you are bound to find a few pieces that cause you to question your assumptions about media.