Twentieth annual ‘5 into 1’ exhibit highlights grads of five local art colleges and universities
Susan Isaac visits the '5 into 1' exhibit and sees multidisciplinary art by graduate artists from 5 local art programs. She congratulates the show's organizer, Philadelphia Sculptors, for its "...valuable and important commitment to both emerging arts professionals and artists, encouraging curators and artists alike. "

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Left to right: Logan Cryer, “Closeness to Rainbows,” wood and paint, Emilie Patton, “A Quilt for the Grandparents,” fabric and embroidery thread, Juan Hurtado Salazar, “David El Primero,” Styrofoam
Left to right: Logan Cryer, “Closeness to Rainbows,” wood and paint, Emilie Patton, “A Quilt for the Grandparents,” fabric and embroidery thread, Juan Hurtado Salazar, “David El Primero,” Styrofoam

The 2019 5 into 1, organized by Philadelphia Sculptors, is an eclectic exhibition that showcases the work of nine young Philadelphia artists, largely those currently graduating from undergraduate programs, who do not necessarily think of themselves as sculptors and who did not specifically emerge from sculpture departments. There is, however, an emphasis on a wide variety of materials and on thinking about dimensionality, and in that way the exhibit is quite current with how artists today experiment with interdisciplinary approaches, not feeling constrained by a single medium or methodology.

An example of this conceptual process is one of the first works encountered in the green-painted hallway gallery, “I am the house,” by Tiza Valente, a performance documented with video and the artifacts from the event— vessel/tub and “diving/bathing” suits. Valente graduated from UPenn with degrees in architecture and fine arts. The performance — with a young man and woman, nude under body stockings, attempting to lift a large and heavy vessel from the floor. The vessel is filled with water, and the pair gets doused repeatedly until they achieve full upright postures and walk (for no apparent reason) to the nearby wall with the vessel, then stare out at you as if waiting for a response. The 57-second video, played on loop, is mesmerizing.

Tiza Valente (Ana Beatriz Valente Soares), “I am the house,” performance documented with video and artifacts
Tiza Valente (Ana Beatriz Valente Soares), “I am the house,” performance documented with video and artifacts

Valente explains that this work is a vessel and an extended structure that joins two people, which continues her interest in the body and architecture and in the relationship between individuals and between them and the environment. The vessel structure and the costumed participants bring together soft and hard materials and actualize the conceptual framework for the exhibition.

Halle Ballard’s “Free Fall,” also at the beginning of the show in the long first floor hallway and constructed of grey-painted and segmented paper mache, suggests marionettes who are quite startled to find themselves dropping from the sky. Indeed, a seeming narrative of a mother and child, their positions vis-à-vis each other suggest the freefall of parachute jumps. Both are naked, surely an uncomfortable potential landing but one that alludes to the relationship between mother and child as in nursing/nurturing. Ballard (UArts) is interested in intersecting themes: queer family making, belonging, alienation, and desire. The placement of the sculpture within a niche is effective and emphasizes the aerial narrative, while the paper mache simulates the carved wood of puppets.

Halle Ballard “Free Fall,” paper mache
Halle Ballard “Free Fall,” paper mache

The single MFA student in the show (PAFA graduate Silas McDonough), contributes two works: “Landscape I/Rainy Season,” hemp rope, wood, string, wire, and steel and “Walking Monument I,” found wood, muslin, plaster, pigment, and wax. His work exemplifies the desire by the show’s curators to highlight materiality, combining craft and fine art techniques. McDonough uses many found materials to address our relationship with nature. Various ingredients, both those found in nature and industry, are imbedded in the organics forms, resulting in evocative and poetic sculptures. Their placement in front of a window looking out onto a courtyard with both grass and hardscape is an excellent design choice by the curators.

5 into 1 is a show with cash prizes awarded by the show’s curators, and Madeline Marvin, a 2019 graduating senior of Tyler, won the second-place prize with two soft sculptures, “Candy Ass” and “Double Tap.” Her work demonstrates a wonderfully satirical, pop culture sense of humor as she explores concepts of female sexual empowerment and enjoyment through brightly colored fabrics and even tootsie rolls, suggesting childhood innocence, simultaneously a sexual pun and a contrast with the subject matter. Her sculptures fit the green wall environment of the gallery perfectly.

A huge, bright yellow sculpture, some 12 feet tall, stands guard over the wide hallway. Juan Hurtado Salazar’s, BFA (Tyler 2019), “David El Primero,” made of carved Styrofoam, was awarded the first prize. The statue represents his the artist’s nephew, a first-generation American citizen, the child of a Colombian mother and a Nigerian father.* Born in Colombia, Salazar is a DACA who has lived in the US since the age of 4. This work, according to the artist, is a monument to the youth of first-generation citizens, but also suggests that not only citizenship, but also skin color plays a role in acceptance in the US. As a maker, Salazar believes that Craft can contribute to storytelling; the simple material of carved Styrofoam presents an opportunity for narrative.

Two works in the exhibition question the nature of reality by making things by hand out of materials contrary to their function or existence.

Jessica Shields “Elevator,” mixed media
Jessica Shields “Elevator,” mixed media

“Elevator” by Jessica Shields (BFA Moore College of Art and Design), is an interactive reproduction of an actual elevator. The work suggests the kind of sets that were used in television and film before digitization. By crafting ordinary objects, Shields questions what is real and what is imagined.

At the end of the gallery a large painted wood rainbow stands as an exit gate. Designed like a stage set, its maker, Moore BFA Logan Cryer, presents a kind of false narrative. Behind the completed and painted façade of “Closeness to Rainbows” viewers find a raw wood structure. The artist comments that objects can appear quite different when closely viewed, asking what truth is and literally building upon the well-known painting “The Treachery of Images” (This is Not a Pipe) by Rene Magritte.

Logan Cryer, “Closeness to Rainbows,” wood and paint
Logan Cryer, “Closeness to Rainbows,” wood and paint

Other works in the exhibition include those by Molly McDonald (Tyler) who creates clay sculptures which form the substrate for drawings that move across their surfaces; she employs them in videos as well, stating that the films allow the objects to “dance, float, and act.” Her works, “Big Lamp” and “Toilet” stand atop lamp tables, suggesting the domestic. Emilie Patton (Tyler) in “A Quilt for the Grandparents,” incorporates portraits of family and heritage, employing traditional quilting techniques and including quite naturalistic embroidered portraits.

5 into 1, an annual exhibition sponsored by Philadelphia Sculptors and now in its 20th year, highlights selected artists from five Philadelphia colleges and universities, and is on display this year in the Green Hallway Gallery, Tyler School of Art. Chenlin Cai, Jacintha Clark, Melissa Joseph, Chelsea Nader, and Christine McDonald, all former “5 into 1” artists, are the curators. After sending out a call, they made studio visits with applicants, finally choosing work by artists.

An MFA exhibition at the Delaware Contemporary, “Cusp,” that was on view through May 30 included work by several artists who also would have fit into the “5 in 1 exhibition,” particularly Donte Moore (ceramics) and Jacob Zimmerman (sculpture). Both exhibitions demonstrate the richness and diversity of methods and materials employed by emerging artists today working with dimensional objects. Philadelphia Sculptors continues its valuable and important commitment to both emerging arts professionals and artists, encouraging curators and artists alike.

5 into 1, organized by Philadelphia Sculptors, on view through June 23, 2019, Green Hallway Gallery, Tyler School of Art, 12th and Norris Streets

* Erin Blewett, “Ceramics student wins Yale residency for summer,” The Temple News, April 24, 2018.

Emilie Patton, “A Quilt for the Grandparents,” fabric and embroidery thread
Emilie Patton, “A Quilt for the Grandparents,” fabric and embroidery thread
Tags

5 into 1, philadelphia sculptors, student artists, Tyler Green Hall Gallery

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