Each spring, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art pairs its annual “Senior Art Majors” exhibition with a small solo exhibition of recent work by one of the faculty members in the art department at Willamette University. This year’s “(re:phrase)” exhibition features the art of 15 senior art students, while the faculty exhibition, “Alexandra Opie: Wonder Box,” focuses on recent works by Associate Professor Alexandra Opie (American, born 1974). The exhibitions open April 20 and continue through May 19 in the Melvin Henderson-Rubio Gallery and the Atrium Gallery respectively.
The “Senior Art Majors: (re:phrase)” exhibition is characterized by a wide variety of styles and approaches and includes multimedia installations, painting, and drawing. This year’s senior art students include Clarice Benz (Canby, OR), Sinead Rose Cahill (Los Altos, CA), Breanna Mae Doss (Troutdale, OR), Matthew David Jensen (San Jose, CA), Genevieve Lawrence (San Francisco, CA), Erica Meier (Pleasanton, CA), Gretal Glynn Menzies (Sydney, Australia), Ella C. Mernyk (Palo Alto, CA), Thea Phillips (Santa Monica, CA), Ant Proctor (Fall City, WA), Maria Isabel Saldaña Suastes (Salem, OR), Nathan Sohn (Los Angeles, CA), McKenna Watkins (Bellevue, NE), JT West (Truth or Consequences, NM), and Arthur William Stamey-Mills (Seattle, WA).
As a special feature, the current group of seniors will discuss their work as part of a series of free Tuesday gallery talks at 12:30 p.m. on April 23, 30, and May 7, and May 14.
In “Wonder Box,” Opie creates heightened awareness of the intense beauty and mystery of the mundane through images of plant parts and found objects. Using antique forms: tintype, ambrotype, and prints from glass-plate negatives, she photographs plant parts and found objects in extreme macro—with an eight-foot long camera and a scavenged military aerial survey lens—in a way that intentionally confuses perception.
Opie says, “We’re meant to wonder if we are looking at something natural or human-made, an ancient artifact that has survived underground for thousands of years or an ephemeral wisp of organic material that will soon decay to nothing. Through this confusion about what we’re seeing and when it’s from, the photographs invite us to examine the role of technology in our perception and to contemplate sight itself.”
Alexandra Opie received a BA from Southern Oregon University in 1997 and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2000. Her artwork has been shown in museum and experimental spaces nationally and in Italy and Australia. She teaches photography at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Financial support for this exhibition has been provided by general operating support grants from the City of Salem’s Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.
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