Perhaps the best word to describe this year’s Junior Independent Work exhibition is “diverse”. In the Lucas Gallery of that bastion of campus creativity, 185 Nassau Street, one finds everything from Clara Wong’s colorful, abstract watercolors to an installation-video piece by Jessica Inocencio featuring a video projected onto a screen fitted behind a car door.
Of the traditional pieces, several big pieces by Caroline James capture the eye with vividly colored oils and Impressionist influences; the blurry-edged figures and careful replication of the effects of light on objects are at once abstract and super-realistic. The portrait face, with highly textured daubs of oil paint on a large square canvas, especially arresting in size and dynamic brush techniques.
But if Andy Warhol-type symbolism is more your style, then to the immediate right find Emily Thornton’s oil-paint pastiches of magazine glamour girls, textile patterns, and snippets of advertisement captions. Despite the presence of clearly recognizable figures, the flesh of Thornton’s haute couture girls, when juxtaposed with the geometric patterns of cloth and text, become as mysterious and surreal as Jason Murphy’s super-8 track, “V”, featuring 20 minutes of silent black-and-white film in five parts, shot entirely in Seattle. “I used establishing shots in between each of the five movements to loosely link the portraits [of the city],” said Murphy, “[my] goal was to create a visual rhythm in each movement.” Jessica Inocencio, creator of Window Seat, which, according to her own written description, “combines video and sculpture characteristics” by “focus[ing] on the car window as a common way of viewing and framing the world.”
For the lover of pure color and shape, Clara Wong’s watercolors and oils experiment with the abstraction and beauty of textured patterns. Contrasts between the linear and circular, the dull and bright, form the basis of her works. Drips, swirls, and organic shapes dominate these works.
When asked about the Princeton visual arts program as a whole, senior Murphy called the faculty and staff “pretty fantastic” and “supportive” but qualified the praise by noting that there is “not really enough” of an emphasis on fine arts in general. Despite “everybody knowing each other pretty well”, Murphy added that funds for his video projects were scarce, and that he was in fact the first student to work on a video project for the independent project in recent years. As innovative as the student artists might be, without sufficient support and resources, their success, and that of the Princeton fine arts community, must remain limited.