Photos and Text by Amy Boone-McCreesh
It’s the time of year again when Maryland Art Place hosts the annual Young Blood exhibition, a reliable and exciting show that introduces the city to recent MFA Graduates from the Greater Baltimore region. As a once participant in the Young Blood show myself, I’m excited to continue the exposure of Baltimore’s newest MFA members. For it’s seventh rotation, MAP offers a mix of artists from MICA, University of Maryland and Towson University. The show runs until August 22, 2015.
Alex Ebstein, Towson University: Ebstein’s deceptively simple pieces are actually hand-cut pvc yoga mats. The works read as paintings with texture and operate like collages. The compositions bring to mind those of the late Matisse cutouts. Simple organic and geometric shapes still manage to represent the depiction of space, feeling both landscape and still life. The exploitation and deliberate placement of ready-made yoga mat textures and colors lead to convincing yet comical references to the body and it’s relationship to the two-dimensional picture plane.
Amanda Agricola, MICA: The Love Bed by Amanda Agricola was created using a topographic visual study of language, specifically the word love. The linear imagery is carved into foam, offering an interactive space where participants can literally fall into love (by laying on the bed). Agricola likens the carved blocks of the bed to a puzzle, much like the act of figuring out love itself. The Love Bed is part of the Bed Island series and comes complete with a sandy room, ambient blue lights, and a robotic female voice that will speak to you during your stay. Agricola also presents a funny and convincing pamphlet, selling spectators on the positive impacts of interacting with The Love Bed.
Christine Wolfe Weller, Towson University: Christine Wolfe Weller is a fibers artist with a recent focus in crochet. All of the works shown at MAP are representations of animals and her human associations with each one. Through a laborious crochet process, Weller walks a line between craft and horror, showing a wolf eating itself, and a dismembered bear. The repetitive fiber processes, like crocheting, offering Weller a meditative experience that result in recognizable imagery with a sobering undertone.
L.E. Dougthie, MICA: Working only in black, white and grey, Doughtie presents a mixed media installation that feels organic in creation while staying anchored through formal organization. Using a combination of two and three-dimensional works, along with black paper, the installation feels playful and non-precious. The work teeters between a space that has appeared naturally and one carefully curated by the artist’s hand.
Magali Hébert-Huot, MICA: Hébert-Huot creates works that play with the tropes of architecture and how it operates within a culture. Using images of churches, log cabin references, and columns, Hébert-Huot presents a fractured look into gender and construction. The corner of a log cabin structure created with pink and yellow foam sits helplessly in the gallery, void of use and heft alongside screen prints with graphic interventions on top of iconic church imagery. Both the two and three- dimensional works reference the process of building, often ending in futile results.
OluShola A. Cole, MICA: Olushola Cole, also known as Pirate Jenny, uses the influences of history, time travel, and personal experience for performances and other multi-media outlets. Cole states that the alter ego comes from Kurt Weill’s song, Pirate Jenny. In the past, Cole has performed live, through radio, and video. At Maryland Art Place Cole presents a few wearable pieces that are used during a performance of writing on the walls and the physical embodiment of pirates and slaves.
Rob Hackett, University of Maryland: Rob Hackett defies gravity with four geometric wooden structures, tethered by metal cables in the middle of the gallery space. The pieces feel light and organized despite their obvious physical weight. There is a visual tension that’s wrangled by the minimal aesthetic of the repetitive works. The warmth of the wood and lights within the Maryland Art Place gallery allow the work to exist outside of the often cold, harsh imagery associated with minimalist works. The staggered pieces also offer interesting views, depending on the positioning of the viewer within the gallery space.
MAP’s Program Advisory Committee (PAC) curates Young Blood, an annual exhibition of works by recent Baltimore-area Masters of Fine Art graduates. The exhibition includes emerging artists from area colleges such as Maryland Institute College of Art and The University of Maryland College Park. Since 2008 this program has continually brought recent graduates together to make new connections and present special selections from their graduate exhibitions. According to MAP’s former Program Advisory Chair, Cara Ober, “After achieving their Masters the next most important step for young artists is their professional debut in a reputable professional gallery.” Since 2008, Young Blood has provided a meritorious exhibition experience for over 45 artists.
This years Young Blood Artists are: Amanda Agricola, OluShola A. Cole, L. E. Doughtie, Alex Ebstein, Rob Hackett, Magali Hébert-Huot, and Christine Wolfe Weller.
Full Disclosure: Author Amy Boone-McCreesh is a member of MAP’s PAC, the group that curates this exhibition. For this reason, this article is not considered a critical review, but informational in its content. She is a Baltimore-based artist and professor.