A Review of the Williams Visual Arts Exhibit
By Alexandra Von Arx '13
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 13:02
The photography by artists Greta Brubaker and Adam MacHose is almost worth the trek down the hill. The exhibition at the Williams Visual Arts building juxtaposes two different artistic efforts. Both boast new artistic visions, but both fall short of being impressively original or awe-inspiring.
Artist Greta Brubaker introduces her photographs with a detailed summary instructing her audience how to view the work.
“These images represent the view of the landscape just beyond the road,” she writes. “These photographs have an inherent beauty… [their] purpose is to draw attention to our surroundings [in central Pennsylvania].”
A viewer may expect dazzling photographs of the Pennsylvania landscape, ravaged and abandoned by coal miners. However, some of Brubaker’s photos suspiciously look like they were snapped from her car window as she sped down 611 on her way to Lafayette.
She would probably be pleased to hear a viewer comment on how universal her photographs appear, but it is no compliment.
“There was a large dichotomy in her works—they were either arresting or dull,” says arts student Christine Vrakas ‘13.
Some elements of her photography were strong. Her most powerful images evoke memories of a childhood place or an activity, now tainted by coal mining. For example, South of Shamokin shows a large puddle reminiscent of a summer diving pool that children might flock to so they can escape from the heat. It is eerily scaly and sharp. The water looks poisoned.
Most of Brubaker’s photographs deliver what she promises—the flat, uninspired landscape of the discarded side of the road. But the ones that go beyond the ditches and rocks are the ones that really strike home.
Adam MacHose’s introduction is not as elaborate, nor does it make excuses for his pieces. Refreshingly, it allows them to speak for themselves.
Unfortunately, his collection is an awkward mix of invigorating, inspiring pieces and something a high school arts student could have made on Photoshop (and most likely has).
His pieces evoke a kind of contemporary surrealism, but they do not go far enough to be revolutionary or groundbreaking. The highest compliment a review can bestow upon it is, “it was a good effort.”
Despite being underwhelming, there was a curious aura to his works.
“Of all the prints, Chione and Psyche stood out the most,” Megan Matusky ‘13 said. “Psyche was delicate and intricate, and Chione was beautifully textured.”
Like Brubaker, only a few of MacHose’s portraits represent the depth and innovation the artist was undeniably aiming for. The rest falls aside into mediocrity.
If you are willing to make the journey down the hill, don’t expect a moving collection of revolutionary art, but don’t expect a room of duds either. They may fail to provoke, astound and captivate an audience, but they still remain eye-catching. Maybe they will inspire another artist who can convey their messages more eloquently.
The exhibitions are on display in the Grossman Gallery in the Williams Visual Arts building until March 9.