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Canisius College Faculty Art Show

Jan Nagle's photos are part of a group faculty show at Canisius College's art gallery.

Studio Art Faculty X

A small but excellent show of works by five Canisius College art faculty members is now on view in the college art gallery.

The works include a set of surrealist digital collage photos by Maria Pabico LaRotonda on a theme of childhood dream visions broaching nightmares. Or perhaps childhood nightmares recollected in adult tranquility. The characteristically subdued presentation of the dream subject matter seems to distance it, draining it of any current terror potential.

In one instance, a child, blindfolded, seated in a way oversized (for him or her) armchair, shares precarious pictorial space, grounded on a water surface, with several carousel animals of possible mythological import, a horse, a tiger (strangely eyeless, much as the child is blindfolded), and a unicorn. In another, a child in a grotesque leather mask suggesting a malign avian creature of unknown species—reminiscent of some man-beast creature in an Hieronymus Bosch infernal vision—and in the background a child’s crib, seemingly on fire. In a third, a nursery scene with a child asleep or going to sleep (or supposed to go to sleep), and in the background a decapitated doll and variety of just partially visible doll’s heads morphing one from the other into a suggestion of a skull, a death’s head.

Tom Wolf has a series of film emulsion works. Photo film emulsion material—imagery in one case of a beer can label, others harder to make out—delicately hand-transferred, so it would seem, but the imagery nonetheless somewhat impaired in the process, onto some almost equally fragile-looking clear backing material. Work that seems to foreground the artistic process as much as the brilliantly coloristic product.

David Miller has a series of precisionist engravings on brass and steel plates of imagery including an art nouveau emblem of spring, another of doves in a floral circle, another of a cartoon fire-breathing flying dragon. In addition, his series of nature photos of urban/suburban occasional backyard visitors for the most part—humingbirds, deer, even a fox—display a visual clarity similar to that in the metalwork. A mallard duck captured so precisely in a landing on water—posture perfect vertical straight spine, wings, and feathers spread to halt momentum, tail in the water to effect proper drag—you get to see just how it’s done. A hummingbird in flight in totally precise focus, only that the wings are a blur.

Jan Nagle’s photos opt for a polar opposite strategy. Obscurity, ambiguity, versus visual clarity. And so ambivalent or multivalent signification. Two photos in which the subject matter is separation, division, a highway double-yellow-stripe centerline in the one case, a grassy divider strip in the other, both photographed at night, by flash illumination, with a prominent directional or perhaps warning sign in one case totally washed out by the flash effect.

And Christine Walsh has a wall-hanging mixed-media print on paper and an elaborate accordion-fold-out artist’s book with sporadically legible text (but obscured with apparent paint overlay and incised representations of crawling insects and butterflies) on the generally misogynist views of the early Christian Church and churchmen.

The faculty show continues through March 16.

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