By Bailey Vega
The Taft College Art Gallery held an artist reception event on Thursday, Dec. 1 for its show titled Craft as Fine Art: The Beauty of Function.
The exhibit, which opened on Nov. 14 and will close on Dec. 8, features many works that may typically be considered craft because they can be utilized but that can also be viewed as fine art due to their excellent aesthetic presentations. These include works such as quilts, fiber arts, glass pieces, woodwork, and ceramics. Also showcased are paper collages, plaster sculptures, digital photography, mixed media creations, and even repurposed seats from cars.
“Craft is usually functional, but if it’s really well done, it can [also] be fine art,” Gaysha Smith, the gallery coordinator, said of the show’s theme.
At the reception, all were invited to observe the displays, and the artists whose work was being shown were present and available to answer any questions viewers may have had about their pieces. Any artist over the age of 18 was encouraged to submit, so the show includes art from Taft College students and faculty as well as from other artists from the local and nearby communities.
Artist Christian Camarena presented a few of his black and white photographs, all of which depict trash, junk, or abandoned materials in settings evocative of “the middle of nowhere.” Though his photos were originally captured in color, he made the creative decision to edit them because he feels that with “black and white, you get to see more of the subject.”
“[Seeing] trash makes me feel like we’re doing harm to our world,” he said. Camarena explained that he enjoys taking photos of nature and that this project is meant to bring awareness to environmental concerns.
Also showcased are several of Memo Castro’s collages made from cut up magazine paper. Most of his works focus on superheroes which he said he has loved from the time he was a child.
“I started doing these two years ago,” Castro said of the activity that he also refers to as “a hobby,” pointing out that he desired to find a way to avoid using paint in his art so he could “incorporate color, without a huge mess.”
“Getting the right color” is what Castro identifies as the most challenging aspect of creating this type of artwork since magazines can offer only a limited amount of hues to choose from among their pages. “It’s great to be able to share [my work],” he reflected in reference to his display.
Taft College professors Gaysha Smith and Jennifer Altenhofel both had creations of their own in the show.
Smith, who is an instructor of art appreciation in addition to her role as the gallery coordinator, exhibited a handmade ceramic salt and pepper shaker/napkin holder set titled “Van Gogh’s Salt and Pepper Shaker.” The piece is made from stoneware ceramic and presents a rendition of Van Gogh’s famed painting “Starry Night.” Smith made the piece for her fellow professor, Deborah Rodenhauser, to keep in her office because the two often eat lunch together there.
Altenhofel’s display entitled “America Healing” is a woodwork piece portraying a juxtaposition of the American flag over the Confederate Flag. “The Confederate Flag is behind it because it doesn’t exist anymore, but it’s still a scar,” she explained when a student inquired about the work’s meaning. The piece was made around ten years ago, and Altenhofel said she usually has it hanging on her front door at home.
Craft as Fine Art is the last exhibition of the fall semester, but you can be on the lookout for more art shows taking place in the art gallery in the upcoming spring semester.