Art beat // Theyve got it made

Student work at MCAD

WHITTIER — Some of the best work by the young artists and designers at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design is on display now in “Made at MCAD,” the school’s annual juried student art exhibition.

If you only ever visit the school for the fall art sale, this is another great opportunity to understand the breadth of work produced at the 125-year-old institution. When they say “Made at MCAD,” they mean a little bit of everything: from sculptures and paintings to illustration work to comics and even video games.

Llewellyn Mejia displays a style that draws from both outsider art and underground comics — think Rory Hayes — in “The Four Aces of the Tarot,” a set of four blue ink drawings overlaid with a serigraph print of fluorescent green. They’re chock full — maybe too full — of imagery and ideas, but Mejia’s zonked-out weirdoes and occultists are great fun to look at. He handles textures wonderfully; thickets of hair, billowing smoke clouds and quavering skin all vibrate to life.

Dakota Hoska packs a novella’s worth of detail into her multimedia piece, “Compartments,” a collection of text, photographs and objects displayed in a hinged, wooden case that evoke the life of a Native American child given up for adoption to a white family. Calling it a “novella” might be inaccurate, though, because this appears to be a true story; one wonders if it’s one of Hoska’s relatives whose life is on display here, maybe even her mother’s.

Hoska carefully parcels out the clues in scattered references to dates and locations. The snippets of typewritten text — apparently from the adoption report — entice viewers to stand in close to “Compartments” and piece the bittersweet story together for themselves.

Josh Olsen delves into the young male psyche in a trio of photographs, “Drowsy Young Male #1–3,” that sympathetically portray their three subjects, each on the cusp of adulthood, looking lost and vulnerable.

Colin Marx has several paintings in the exhibition, but two in particular — both grotesque portraits, both thick with impasto — are both outstanding for their daring.

Marx’s “Datable,” a head-and-shoulders painting of a young woman in a blue dress, is like a vandalism. His subject’s face is distorted with thick gobs of paint, including lurid, spackled-on red lips. The only hint of who she is, or was, is the straight, neatly parted hair that crowns her disturbingly clownish features.

Marx piles the paint on even thicker in another, untitled portrait (or self-portrait?). The muddy, swirling mass of oils doesn’t read so much as a face as a festering wound.

Heather Williams goes cute but stops short of saccharine with “Red Leaves,” a sweet and economical comic strip done in the style of a Japanese ukiyo-e print. Two foxes meet, fall in love and have a litter of pups all in the space of four panels. Williams has a polished cartooning style and smartly uses falling red maple leaves as a motif to tie the images together.

Maggie Muldowney’s “Cadence Solo Dance” also resembles a comic, although it may be more aptly called a fumetti, or photographic comic, since it appears to combine photographs and drawing. Or maybe Muldowney had Eadweard Muybridge’s 19th-century motion studies in mind when she translated the fluid, expressive motions of a dancer into 12 panels.

Jurors Clara Kim, a senior curator of visual arts at the Walker Art Center, and Travis Olson, creative co-chair at local advertising agency mono, selected five winners from among the 350 entries, including the works by Mejia and Olson. Other winners included Ian Nystrom for his “Loom Chair,” a classic chair shape strung with black yarn, and Taisha Bosher for her colorful “Zoo” print, which hits a kind of weird-cute note that may remind some viewers of work by local artist Jennifer Davis.

The fifth award went to Rachel Knoll and Daniel Disselkøen for their short and sweet documentary on the older folks who walk the Mall of America’s concourses in the hours before the shops open. That video, “Walk and Talk,” and more of the inventive and surprisingly polished work by the duo, can be viewed on their Vimeo page:

Go See It

“Made at MCAD” runs through April 15 at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design,
2501 Stevens Ave. S. 874-3700.


WHITTIER — When you’re done with “Made at MCAD,” wander next door to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and spend some time with “Field Inversion,” an elegant hanging sculpture made by two MCAD students, Luke Axelson and Josh Ritenour.

Suspended in the middle of a three-story stairwell, Axelson and Ritenour’s sculpture fuses together four curving planes into one long, sinuous shape that is surfboard smooth. A trip from the first floor up to the third offers an ever-changing perspective on the piece’s sharp lines and flowing curves.

Go See It
“MCAD@MIA” runs through June 17at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Ave. S.