Yesterday we went to Russell’s senior art show. It was held in two floors of a large, empty, decrepit building in a somewhat run-down part of Poughkeepsie, where Russell’s work was displayed along with the work of many other seniors graduating with arts degrees from Vassar.
Although the conditions were not what you might find in a museum, the venue worked because the empty building had plenty of space that allowed each student to place their pieces on bare walls in one or more rooms. The shabby surroundings — with exposed wires, damaged floors, and cracked windows — gave the place an eclectic feel that was well-suited to the eclectic mix of artwork being shown. And what a mix it was! There were paintings, and ink drawings, and pieces made of wax, and pieces made with lights, and toasters, and strings and mirrors, and flimsy chairs chained to the floor.
Russell’s pieces primarily occupied two rooms, although a few of his works were scattered at other locations in the building. As always, we enjoyed seeing Russell’s works. One of Russell’s friends mentioned that Russell is good at creating space in his pieces, and I thought that was a really interesting observation. It also looks, to my uneducated eye, like Russell is experimenting with shapes and working with different kinds of objects that get away from reliance on the standard, rectangular canvas. One of my favorite pieces, shown above at the top of this post, was totally outside normal canvas-oriented artwork, and the unusual shape really added to the feel the piece created.
There was a good crowd at the event, and we got to meet some of Russell’s professors and friends. From looking at the show, it seems obvious that the collective Vassar arts community has had a real impact on Russell’s art — and my guess is that the reverse is true, too.