The Lamar Dodd School of Art threw down another party last Friday night to welcome in four new exhibitions. Apparently, this is how we do it at UGA’s art school: with readings by Georgia Review writers, food by Wildwood Catering, music by experimental dream-pop duo Historic Sunsets, wine and, of course, thought-provoking work by students and professionals—all free and open to the public.
Dodd Galleries artist-in-residence Mequitta Ahuja was on hand to chat with visitors about her exhibit "Automythography." These self-portraits explore her dual African American and Indian heritage through motifs and patterns, some of which are created using traditional Indian woodblocks made for printing on cotton. The textural works consist of many layers of collaged paper that often resemble fabric. “[My mother] got me quilting when I was in high school…and you can see the influence of textiles,” she says. Ahuja is the featured artist in the current issue of The Georgia Review.
In many of Ahuja's self-portraits, the artist looks out at the viewer. In contrast, most of the adolescents that are the subject matter in "Justin Schmitz: Like a Juggernaut" seem oblivious of the photographer documenting them. In wide compositions, Schmitz captures the emotional responses of larger-than-life crowds of teenagers at football games. The heightened feelings experienced by these teens in their Friday night dramas seem to make the artist all but invisible to them.
Other exhibits on display include "Exquisite," an evolving group project organized by printmaking graduate students Tyler Leslie and Ryan McCullough, and "To-Do List," curated by Athens art scene dynamo Didi Dunphy. The latter show involves 28 local artists documenting their to-do lists for a six week period on a large screen printed paper created by Dunphy that mimics a sheet of notebook paper.
To an obsessive-compulsive like me, who scribbles her lists in microscopic handwriting and still manages to fill pages on a daily basis, the premise of the show initially set off alarms. "To-Do List," however, inspired a lot of thoughtful conversation among viewers on Friday night. While some of the lists seem artificial (nary a note about groceries, children, doctors or any of the mundane chores of daily life), many others painfully attest to the self-doubt, phobias and time management issues that plague many in the real world—especially artists. The words and the imagery of the lists is often touching and revealing.
All four exhibitions remain on display through Thursday, Feb. 26. An Art Talk with Justin Schmitz will take place on Thursday, Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m. Didi Dunphy will give a Lunchtime Gallery Talk on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 12 p.m. For more information, visit art.uga.edu.