Student art spotlighted in Honor’s Studio Exhibition

Adriana Lemus/UC Berkeley Department of /Courtesy

The title of so-so, the department of art practice’s Spring 2015 Honor’s Studio Exhibition, suggests an indeterminate and in-between state — a state defined as ongoing discovery and growth, more so than as a concrete finish line. The exhibit, which features work by a dozen student artists, runs through May 8 at the Worth Ryder Art Gallery and honors artistic development as a perpetual process fraught with change and experimentation.

So-so recognizes 12 exceptional projects by selected senior and junior art practice majors Kevin Cabardo, Audrey Chen, Yuan Chen, Ryan Davis, Adriana Lemus, Cara Jaclyn M., Lu Meng, mona, Dominga Opazo, Mayela Rodriguez, JR Thomason and Meena Vempaty.

“We invite an understanding of ‘so-so’ as a progression, not an end, and an appreciation for those things teetering between convictions,” said the group in its artists’ statement. “Things neither good nor bad, neither a success nor a failure, neither true nor false, but nonetheless things that suggest a challenge.”

The featured bodies of work, which incubated for a semester in the honor’s studio space of Wurster Hall, reveal a thorough investigation of art as studied thought. The result is an evocative collection that synthesizes traditional and new media, cultural practice and recent history.

So-so includes a computer game, a sculpture, digital prints, installations, weavings and paintings. Alone, the compositions stand as poignant individual readings of meaning. Together, they represent the forward-thinking and informed technique that characterizes the department’s teaching methodology.

“I don’t like to limit myself to any one particular mode or research or discipline,” said Mayela Rodriguez. Rodriguez and her cohort’s cross-disciplinary projects experiment with the principles of design in a virtually free range of approaches. Photo collages and satirical games, genealogy trees and floor-to-ceiling diaries are all fair game in so-so.

Striking succulent sculptures are the medium of choice for Adriana Lemus. “Garden of Earthly Delights,” a tripartite glazed ceramic series, explores concerns of viewership by merging plants and bodies in an unsettling union.

Lemus engages her viewer at the hazy intersection of humanity and nature, illustrating the ease with which female figures can be objectified, simplified and distorted.

“I’m trying to show how the female body can be viewed a number of different ways — ways I didn’t even imagine while making my work,” said Lemus.

Social change artist Lu Meng pursues her art as a mode of eco-activism. Her ephemeral ceramic designs — inspired by the natural world, paper craft and memory — take inspiration from architect-artist Maya Lin, whose recent exhibit, “What is missing?,” raises awareness of environmental crises.

Meng’s dizzying floor installation, “The Skeletons,” moves our eye around a dynamic whirlpool set against a void. At the installation’s midpoint, the rippling waves converge in a haphazard collision of shells and coral.

“My work is meant to imply the devastating transition coral reefs endure when faced with climate change, pollution, blast fishing and digging of canals,” said Meng in her artist’s statement.

Dominga Opazo connects her series of four prints to the Chilean tradition of thread-making, working from cultural influences as she weaves in real time. Opazo’s intricate artworks are inspired by the patterns of the Selk’nam people and hang suspended in an architectural arrangement that creates a sense of play among the canvases.

She infuses her textiles with private meaning by weaving them with yarn purchased from places dear to her in the south of Chile. With deliberation, Opazo selects materials as personal to her as they are interconnected with Chilean culture.

“I am interested in the interaction of shape, color and light and the natural patterns that occur as the elements dance together,” Opazo said in an interview with The Daily Californian.

So-so proves that for Opazo and her cohort, the UC Berkeley studio is a place where the threads of art practice produce innovative — and thought-provoking — results.

So-so is on view at Worth Ryder Art Gallery until Friday, May 8.

Contact Danielle Shi at [email protected].