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Review: Herron's Curious and Curiouser

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Herron School of Art and Design's Curious and Curiouser opened Jan. 21. The three-part art exhibit features the fantastical works of Wayne White, Casey Riordan Millard, and Sarah Emerson. Because the exhibit presents each artist in a separate space, we review them individually here. See the Slideshow below for photographs of each artists' work.


Curious and Curiouser: Sarah Emerson
3 stars
The most immediately engaging work in Sarah Emerson's exhibition is "Pool of Tears," a corner mural featuring an abstracted swamp. Emerging from the swamp are animals advertised as "imagery which eerily looks reminiscent of children's drawing books [and rendered] in a sometimes dark and sinister way." However, this is the only work that features the animals; the rest are landscapes. Unlike the other works exhibited in Curious and Curiouser, Emerson's paintings showcase form rather than concept.

In the landscape "Devil's DPen," Emerson flattens the perspective with a palette of black, white, and opaque colors, heightening the entire image. Background geography overlaps the foreground, such that the image's layers become impossible to distinguish. The rejection of shading and perspective contribute to a wholly original vision of landscape. Emerson's work is vivid and powerful, but not as conceptually driven as the show in which it finds itself.

Curious and Curiouser: Casey Riordan Millard
3.5 stars
A wall text describes Casey Millard's "Shark Girl" — a girl with the head of a shark and a frozen expression of sorrow — as always searching for distractions from the onset of death. This provides the foundation, not only for a series, but for a series of series. Each grouping explores a different narrative structure, from silent comic strips to surrealist visions, all featuring "Shark Girl."

While some works, like "Panty Skull," can stand alone aesthetically, the symbolism of "Shark Girl" is better understood when all the works are viewed together. Motifs like skulls, hearts, eyes and clouds accumulate meaning as we experience them in different contexts. Perhaps each one acts as a different kind of memento mori, a reminder of death. In keeping with the conceptual emphasis of Curious and Curiouser, we are drawn to follow "Shark Girl" into her thoughts and even share in her universal tragedy.

Curious and Curioser: Wayne White
4 stars
Wayne White is a rebel in the text and image movement. His works consist of framed lithographs, sometimes hung sideways or upside-down, arranged in groups and then painted over with dramatic word-art. The concept clicks when the text is read in the environment of the group of images.

One painting features "What'd I Tell Ya?"spelled out against the foothills of the Rockies. In another, "Shout-Out" is written across a pair of valleys — and the words 'echo' several times. In a particularly large landscape group, the pithy words "I Straddle the Great Briny Bay and Warm My Hands Over the Anxiety Radiating from the City's Core," slip in and out of view and draw the viewer into a close study. White's art does more than juxtapose text and image; it forces them to interact physically.

Curious and Curiouser runs through Feb. 24

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