College photography exhibit showcases wide variety of work

Rua Pokladnik

The work chosen for the Tri-County Collegiate Print and Photo Showcase could be classified as both realistic and abstract.

The showcase includes about 35 pieces, dominated by photography, and is hosted by the Student Union Board and the Memorial Union.

The exhibit was judged by Amy Worthen, curator of prints at the Des Moines Art Center, from 100 entries. Students currently attending Iowa State, Drake University, Grandview College, Marshalltown Community College and Des Moines Community College were eligible to enter two-dimensional artwork.

“Regardless of medium, I looked for evidence of an interesting concept and for the artist’s clarity of thought,” Worthen said in her juror’s statement of her choices for the showcase. “I looked for striking visual qualities, and especially for something about the work that invites the gaze to linger and explore the image. I sought good execution of the idea — not just technical polish — but a compelling union of idea and form.”

Nicholas Tann, senior in graphic design, was awarded Best of Show for “Skinscape,” a series of six color photographs mounted on wood panels. The photographs depict a nude covered in acrylic paint, shot in abstract sections. The colors are in reds and oranges.

Tann said he got the idea for the body painting in “Skinscape” from a graphic design project.

In addition to getting ideas from his course work, Tann said he finds a source of inspiration from other artists.

“Of course there’s [Robert] Mapplethorpe,” Tann said.

Mapplethorpe is known mostly for his photographic work with the female nude form. “He’s great with lights and darks, contrasts that contrast,” Tann added.

“I guess controversially speaking, I kind of like Andres Serrano,” Tann continued. “He has a lot of very controversial things.”

Serrano is perhaps best known for the highly controversial piece, “Piss Christ,” a painting of the crucifix covered in urine.

“I respect his experimentation and sort of shock value he’s going for, and the beauty he finds in what he perceives,” Tann said. “I don’t want to say [Serrano’s work is] disgusting … more like morbid. He finds beauty in the morbid.”

In addition to Best of Show, Tann was also awarded Honorable Mention for “Demons,” a five-by-seven black and white photograph.

“[‘Demons’] was from my series last year that I did on depression and suicide, and that’s where the body painting kind of spread off of — using the body,” Tann said. “I’m very much into evoking emotions through my artwork. No Ansel Adams landscapes for me.”

Worthen also talked about the spirit of the photographers in their work.

“Many of the photographers, interested in the observed world, demonstrated a wonderful attention to the qualities of light and a keen eye for the fascinating visions waiting to be discovered in nature and in human activity,” Worthen said. “Other photographers used their medium effectively to explore inner realities.”

The Tri-County Collegiate Print and Photo Showcase will be on display in the Pioneer Room of the Memorial Union through March 28.