“Blank Slate (magnolias)” by Jennifer Niswonger
Trio Contemporary Art Gallery’s inaugural juried exhibition, “Trifecta,” presents emerging artists currently enrolled in master of fine arts programs at the University of Georgia, Georgia State University and Georgia Southern University. Co-curated by Laulea Taylor and Tatiana Veneruso, the show includes pieces by a total of 25 artists working in media that ranges from painting to ceramics, video, fabric, sculpture and photography. An opening reception will be held on Friday, Mar. 9 from 6–8 p.m., and the exhibition will remain on view through March.
SUSANNA BONDAR: Heavily influenced by the stylistic and narrative structures of Japanese anime and manga, UGA ceramics student Bondar constructs miniature worlds with alluring yet ambiguous narratives that allow for viewers to project ideas and imagine their own tales. Drawn to the use of archetypes, particularly the tragic woman bound by fate, she takes interest in subverting this sense of destiny and aims to give her women more agency. Her porcelain, glass and found-object construction, “Burden of the Eternal Wish,” depicts a reclining girl beneath three gothic arches and comes from a larger narrative she has been working on.
“She makes a wish to give up her humanity in exchange for the power to collect people's trauma until they are at a point in their life when they feel ready to unpack and process it,” says Bondar. “This piece in specific focuses on her interiority. She, ‘The Girl Who Died,’ rests in the temple of her own unresolved needs, surrounded by and constantly absolving the burdens of others in a velvet void and the singular loneliness she chose for herself. Often stories encompass hopes and dreams, not limited to frames of time. The narrative behind this piece extends from my own secret dreams that warp and unravel when forced to manifest in the physical, interpersonal world.”
NICOLE BOVASSO: Georgia Southern student Bovasso’s current body of work explores objects and colors typically associated with femininity, challenging how society sculpts and regulates the experiences of its members through gendered roles and objects. “Three Graces (Microaggressions No. 2)” is a collection of three blue mask-like faces, each nested in pieces of plasticized lace and physically pierced with a screw or bolt.
“The idea was to manipulate the stereotypically masculine/feminine to draw attention to the accepted social normative, specifically in relation to problems women often face,” says Bovasso. “That extended into a pursuit of material manipulation beyond its traditionally accepted purpose. I wanted to use the ‘feminine’ lace as something structural and supportive, while still leaving the steel objects as overtly violating.”
DIMELZA BROCHE: A second-year candidate studying painting and drawing at UGA, Broche creates surreal worlds that draw inspiration from the beauty of nature and mystery of dreams and the subconscious mind. While “High Red” is a near-monochromatic landscape inhabited by a sleek pink dog, the “Yellow Cow” appears amidst dense green and blue trunks covered by lush mosses. Her most unusual scene, “Land of Desires,” includes two human forms: one in a praying position and the other partially enshrouded by a thick layer of fungi climbing up towards the pastel-toned sky.
“I dream a lot with fantastical locations—some look more real than others—and I think this is because of my own physical need to be around nature. I am in a wheelchair, so many of the places I would love to visit are very inaccessible, even for people who have no physical disability,” says Broche. “As a child, I dreamed a lot about lakes and mountains, and I knew that as an adult I wanted to explore nature, but because of my physical limitations I can only experience this from afar. These paintings are the places I have created in my dreams—places I would like to visit but know I cannot stay for long since they are dangerous and suffocating. What I mean by this is that I cannot escape my reality and live in a fictional world.”
NATHANIEL MONDRAGON: After delving into Boston’s performance art scene and co-founding the BATHAUS artist collective, Mondragon applied to Georgia State University’s sculpture program with the intention of creating objects that could serve as physical artifacts within his performance-based work. Primarily ephemeral in nature, his performances explore notions of identity through ritualistic actions, incorporating influences like silent films, ’90s club kids, the occult and drag aesthetics. Named after a phrase he came across while researching Warhol and his relationship to drag culture, Mondragon’s artifact “Wear to cast glamour o’er the eyes” is simultaneously simple and extravagant: a pair of peach satin gloves adorned with impractically long, glittering nails.
“The archaic definition of the word glamour meant enchantment or magic,” says Mondragon. “I was really taken by implications of this word when applied to drag aesthetics. Makeup, wigs and clothing become the artifice that is used to cast a spell on the audience. That is, to momentarily make the audience believe in the fantasy the queen is performing. I think drag performances are truly captivating. I have a lot of respect for drag performers.”
JENNIFER NISWONGER-MORRIS: Promoting dialogue about controversial political and social issues, UGA painting and drawing student Niswonger-Morris creates thought-provoking works that act as spaces to contemplate your own moral compass. “Blank Slate (magnolias)” was painted in response to hearing frequent debates surrounding biological sex versus gender identity and expression. “450 Periods for Pence” refers to the campaign launched in response to the then-governor of Indiana signing a law imposing new limitations on abortion. Using the average number of periods a woman will have during her lifetime, a wall-bound American flag uses white tampons to represent the number of potential pregnancies and black tampons to represent the number of potential miscarriages.
“The biggest influence over my artwork are the stories many of us see in our news feed on social media everyday—and the comments section that follows. No argument is ever black and white, and no argument in response to an argument is ever black and white,” says Niswonger-Morris. “We are all individuals with our own set of values, experiences, visions, priorities and responsibilities, and that endless list of factors plays a much larger role in who we are, what we stand for and the world we envision than what we may think. It is my interest in uncovering the motivators for our actions, obvious or not, that drive my art-making.”
"Trifecta" is an annual juried show between the MFA programs at UGA, Georgia State University and Georgia Southern University. Artists include Susanna Bondar, Simelza Broche, Coorain Devin, Matthew Flores Mo Jahangir and more. See Art Notes on p. 19.