'Bright Young Things' shows off the front range's talented youth
When: Friday (on display through September 14, 2012). Reception: August 3, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Where: UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art GOCA121, 121 S. Tejon Street
Admission: Free, 255-3504, www.galleryuccs.org
Something else: Bright Young Things features seven young artists and recent graduates from Colorado Front Range undergraduate and graduate arts programs.
Give seven young artists a space in which to flourish, and the result is "Bright Young Things."
The exhibit opens Friday and runs through Sept. 14 at the Galleries of Contemporary Art. It features works from some of the Pikes Peak Region’s most talented youth.
“It was exciting to uncover so many young artists creating thoughtful, interesting, mature and flat-out stunning work, says Daisy McConnell, who is curator of the exhibit. “I knew this would be work our audience would delight in discovering as well.”
With the idea of giving these fledgling artists an opportunity to show off their talent, McConnell invited artists from across the Front Range, ultimately picking students who have recently achieved undergraduate and graduate degrees in fine arts in Colorado.
“Not all of the artists we exhibit at (Galleries of Contemporary Art) have an academic background, nor do we qualitatively judge those who've gone through academia in relation to those who are self-taught or who have taken other paths,” McConnell says. “Genius is genius, and hard work is hard work. It takes both of those and more to make it as a professional artist.”
The Gazette: How did you find artists for "Bright Young Things?"
Daisy McConnell: The artists in the "Bright Young Things" exhibit were all personally invited to exhibit their work. I initially discovered these artists by contacting (the) Colorado University arts faculty up and down the Front-Range corridor. It made sense to me that the innovative, experimental, and powerful work this faculty was creating would carry over to their students. I'd wanted to survey young Colorado artists for some time and asked for recommendations from many of the faculty I've worked with. … I worked to narrow the field through conversations, studio visits and meetings, ultimately choosing seven artists whose work was individually stellar but would also work as part of this particular grouping.
Gazette: What is the show's mission?
McConnell: My goal in curating this exhibit was to highlight some of the strongest work being created by young artists. Focusing on recent arts graduates helped narrow the lens for me as a curator and acknowledged our role at GOCA as an academic art gallery. Artists in these programs are given space and time to take big creative risks with critical dialogue and support along the way from their peers and professors. While the work in this exhibit has, in most cases, been created after leaving academia, it has its roots there and that risk-taking is very apparent in this work. Two of the artists are from UCCS - Aaron Graves and Taylor Stamp - and though their work is dramatically different in style, both highlight the strengths of the undergraduate visual arts program here. Ultimately those with B.A.s, B.F.A.s and M.F.A.s (the terminal degree in visual art - equivalent of a PhD in other subjects - will form the next generation of arts professors, professional artists and culture creators.
Gazette: Is there a specific theme to the type of art that is featured?
McConnell: I tried to feature a wide range of media and approaches to art practice in "BYT," not wanting to be too narrow in my focus. … As the exhibit came together I found this to be a grouping of "makers" - artists working with their hands to create (and) many using traditional methods in their approach but with incredibly fresh, contemporary results.
For example, Laura Lee Shill creates tin-type photographs - a medium that dates back to the origins of photography in the early 1800s - but includes her own performance as subject and incorporates a hand-sewn drapery installation that is very contemporary. I was fascinated to find this amalgamation of historical and contemporary approaches in many of the artists featured - all with their own powerful, unique voice coming through. This exhibit includes neon-light installation, cut paper bas-relief installation, photography, printmaking and embroidery, and mixed-media sculptural installation
Gazette: The name "Bright Young Things" is so catchy. How did you come up with it?
McConnell: I had seen this title used in a few creative ways - for a British film, a New-York fashion week exhibit and even a font I use in designing print work for GOCA of all things. It works really well as a group exhibit title and creates a sense of excitement for these rising art stars. They are burning bright in their creative intensity and talent.
Gazette: How did UCCS become involved in the exhibit?
McConnell: GOCA is a part of UCCS. Our campus gallery has been located in the heart of campus for the past 30 years, while our downtown satellite gallery opened in February 2010 in the Plaza of the Rockies. As an academic art gallery with one site on-campus and a second in downtown Colorado Springs, we balance our academic role with our public role as an arts institution. UCCS is very supportive of this approach as a whole. GOCA is an important part of UCCS' community involvement. I personally love being at the nexus of community, academic learning, student-involvement, and art. It's an exciting role and I believe has a positive impact on dialogue and culture in the region. GOCA121, features multiple rooms and lends itself perfectly to an exhibit with seven artists. I wanted to be sure each artist had enough space for their work to feel significantly fleshed out, but also encourage dialogue between the different art installations. That's often where you find the "magic" as a viewer. Something I think about when curating an exhibit.
Gazette: Can we look forward to another "Bright Young Things" exhibit in the future?
McConnell: I plan to make this a regular feature of GOCA's exhibit schedule (and) perhaps expand to other spheres (thematically and geographically) to find those young unknown artistic talents. A bi-annual survey of Colorado's young artists would not only offer a significant opportunity to those included, but will cultivate significant new projects at GOCA. We are very much about the “new,” introducing regionally unknown artists, supporting creation of new projects by contemporary artists, thereby creating significant cultural experiences in the Pikes Peak Region. "Bright Young Things" will surely play an important role for GOCA in the years to come.