Smile Politely

Things Abound at Link Gallery Art Show

There’s always something hanging at the Link Gallery. But because the space also serves as the only corridor between the Krannert Art Museum and the School of Art + Design, it can be easy to stroll through the Link and miss the art happening all around you.

Not this month.

“A Show About Things,” the current exhibition at the Link, refuses to be ignored. An annual show put on by the junior and senior University of Illinois painting/sculpture students, this year’s version packs a punch. The fusion of these two disciplines has the potential for provocative and unconventional art, and this display delivers.

A large black and white painting close to the museum’s Palette Café immediately catches your eye. Reminiscent of a primitive signboard, the piece is covered with these words: “Our Paintings Would Be A Lot Better If Our Foundation Painting Classes Were Taught By Professors Instead Of Grad Students.”

The artist, senior painting major Laura Collins, said the painting was created to hang in the Link Gallery.

“This piece can’t really exist anywhere else — I made it specifically for the show. I was working on an Oceanography painting — the waves, the waves — and feeling so frustrated, I couldn’t resolve it. I wanted to create something that talked about the other pieces in the show, which would draw people in with its message. After I submitted the piece, a grad student instructor pulled me aside to tell me he liked the piece!”

Much of the energy that Collins and the other artists bring to the Link comes from the experience of seeing a range of paintings, sculptures, and installations side by side. Collins says this fusion of media makes sense: Painters and sculptors are similar animals, and the line is blurring more with every passing year. “You really can do what you want, call it whatever you want. Either way, I think it is a combination of personal statement and the psychology of the artist on display — but also, you hope it is a broad work, so that all people can relate to and bring their own experience to the piece.”

As the title promises, this show truly is about things — and the variation is exciting. One installation is created from hot glue and glass (broken Rolling Rock bottles, to be precise). Called “I Drink, I Party, and Dammit I’m __,” the work is jagged and haphazardly stacked on white blocks, and it looks dangerous. Some portraiture hanging close by creates a nice contrast: Jen Cronin’s “Sarah” and Andrew Holt’s “Barista” are safely contained on the canvas, but their photorealistic quality is deliciously disturbing.

Find your own “things” to appreciate at “A Show About Things,” which will be up at the Link Gallery (408 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign) until the end of January.

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