Thursday, December 8, 2011

Art Center Portfolio Review/Report

At the end of each term, Billy Shire and I are invited to review the Design and Illustration portfolios of the Art Center College of Design's senior class. Most of those soon-to-graduate are seeking industrial jobs in editorial or animation, but a brave handful are hoping for gallery representation. The quality of work from these young artists is almost invariably stellar, but I've singled out a few highlights below. These images represent the work of those I hope to work with (in some capacity) over the course of the next year and beyond. Some will participate in the Laluzapalooza group show in March 2012, and some will be getting feature exhibitions after that, while others will participate in satellite projects to be revealed later. These young folks epitomize the creative impulse of the next generation, and I'm always honored to be asked to jury their portfolios. I spent a lot of time at Art Center in the 90s, and many of the instructors are friends, colleagues and artists I've had the pleasure of representing, so it's exciting to see their students taking unique steps along the same path.

Timothy Cheng is a painter, a sculptor and animator who is sure to be scooped up by a smart Pixar supervisor before the holiday break. Check out these two examples of his painted illustration work and three-dimensional, hand-crafted statues. The image at left is a tribute to Park Chan-wook's ultraviolent and groundbreaking film, Oldboy, and the image below is an example of his surreal, situation sculptures. He also had an intensely realistic sculpture of a baked fish on sushi rice (visible on his website), which will feature prominently in a senior exhibition that also includes drawings and a video installation. Timothy's animation reel was no joke, and it's been a long time since I've seen a triple-crown talent like his.

Shaun Berke first blipped onto my radar when Christine Wu recommended I check out a Rembrandt master-study he had painted for possible inclusion in our Everything But the Kitschen Sync exhibition. It would definitely have passed jury, but I wouldn't have been able to guarantee its return for his senor exhibition upon sale –and I'm certain it would have sold. The heavy subject matter of his work is counter-balanced by his easy-going, good-naturedness. The painting shown here is titled "The Intersection of Hecate, Drowning of Noah, and Disappointment of Ludovica -or Deathboner Blueballs." It's an oil on linen painting measuring 40" x 51". What can I say? The kid can paint!

One of Shaun's good friends, Elliot Brown, graduated last term, and had previously submitted for possible inclusion in our next group show. I returned an email letting him know we weren't looking at submissions yet (this was back in August), but that his portrait of Motorhead frontman, Lemmy, was the best heavy metal portrait I'd seen since Martin Emond passed away three-quarters of a decade ago. Elliot brings his own sharp vision to narrative painting via his superb illustration and painting chops without sacrificing style. He'll definitely be featured in Laluzapalooza in March, possibly via multiple mediums, as he can also sculpt and draw like a motherf**ker.

Sharry Lai first attended Otis College of Art & Design, studying Communication Design before switching majors and schools to study Illustration and Textile Design at Art Center. Her simple, but hyper-stylized drawings are succinctly fashion driven, and the application of her work inherently lends itself to packaging and product lines. I actually purchased a piece from Madame Lai's senior exhibition without seeing it framed, but I trust her instincts and can barely wait to see it on my walls. I think she's one to watch, and look forward to seeing what a smart, intuitive couture designer can bring to a gallery sensibility.

Everybody knows that we don't generally showcase digital work, but there was something fresh and unique to Sara Saedi's mock rock posters, so I asked her about making monoprints, and she offered an even better solution: unique silk screens! Also a talented pattern-maker, Sara is sure to connect with fans of Tara McPerson, Mark Atamos Pilon and even Shag –but with a new-jack twist.

And there you have it: a short survey of the wonderful work presented by the class of 2011. Not pictured but equally intriguing was a miniature, cloth-and-wood diorama by Li Kai Lai, called "My Grandfather's Closet," and Liz Mamont's proto-Victorian illustrated zine, "Uncle Tiberius."

Big props also to my two former assistants, Ann Shen and Sana Park for presenting incredible design portfolios. Ann included pages from Pop-Sequentialism and La Luz de Jesus 25, both of which she designed, and Sana would have had pages from The Panik Diaries, but the content might have been a bit questionable for a senior project. More on that later...

I'll leave you with Jon Lau's loving caricature of Korean, hip-hop girl-group 2NE1, a wonderful miniature print of which is currently under a magnet on my refrigerator:

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