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Summer Invitational


"Student work" is a descriptor, often used derisively, for artwork appearing jejune or unseasoned. With the developed artist, a disdain for this designation is understandable. To paraphrase arts educator William V. Dunning however, the art student needs qualities like stylistic flexibility and fearless risk-taking (with its occasionally attendant colossal failure) as prerequisites to success. (If you haven't read Dunnings "Advice to Young Artists in a Postmodern Era," student or no, you should.)

So what can be said, critically, of actual student work? "Summer Invitational" (through July 30th) at Pratt Institutes Schafler Gallery (200 Willoughby Ave) offers some insight. Compiled of work from 2010 Pratt B.F.A. Graduates and curated by various Department Heads, the resultant show is solid and encouraging in it's freshness.

Foremost among the jewelry making which figures prominently here is a suite of tightly rendered silver objects from Miok Yoo. Playful and considered, "Necklace" is a syncopated construction of circular shapes, some cleverly inset with colored pencil cross sections.

Philip Travis Depaola displays an engaging series of cotton-candy spectacle, rendered in colorful acrylic on paper. "Zounds," a sticky-sweet layering of fun house imagery, deftly straddles the line between excess and restraint.

Also representing painting is Ryan Till, with the nuanced, "Untitled (Object 2)," a lush spherical enigma, encrusted with impasto jewel and earth tones.

Also of note is photographer Paulette Omura, with "Anatomy of Absence." This quiet image of an oxidized tin shed against a snow-covered field seems to honor the idea that good art making rests not only in adequate technique and processes well attended to, but also in the commitment to reveal truths lurking just below acuity.

—Enrico Gomez