Senior Art Exhibition
Lewis & Clark College Gallery of Contemporary Art
Through May 6

This spring, 26 senior art students will leave behind the posh, suburban campus of Lewis & Clark College and embark on the journey towards art-stardom. The young hopefuls mark this transition with the display of recent work in the Senior Art Exhibition at the college's Gallery of Contemporary Art. Traditionally, this type of exhibit can be a real hit or miss, usually the latter. But the work in the Lewis and Clark version (despite a few exceptions) reflects a program that cultivates strong technical abilities and bouts of conceptual sophistication. The strongest examples of this trend is found within the work of three artists.

Inspired by playground structures, sculptor Julie Beckett transforms clay and pigment into bright, active forms. The fantastic and whimsical ceramic objects befit the set of a Tim Burton movie. In the piece entitled "Monkey Bars," Beckett creates a vividly colored bi-morph. Inside a patterned skin of bright yellow and blues, the four-foot high form slouches and wiggles. Within the curves of the piece, Beckett carves out caverns that she fills with various rocks. This aspect mimics a playground reality. Under the set of monkey bars is a harsh reality: a layer of hard pavement and nasty bits of rock.

Chrystal Vang's photographic series, Changing Faces (detail above) poses the question: Is every face unique? To construct an answer, Vang photographed the faces of various models, then layered these exposures to create six hybrid portraits. The cast of faces blend to form a single, stoic expression. Rather than describe six individuals, Vang's subtle morphing suggests a universal portrait.

Three large canvases by Maya Procel offer close up views of three Hispanic faces--soft and rounded forms similar in style to the late Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. The depth of each piece is found within the expressions of Procel's characters and the dream-like setting they are surrounded by. Procel achieves a certain mysticism, as in "Como te ves me vi, como me ves te veras" (As you appear, I appeared; as you see me, you will look) Procel depicts a young girl wrapped in a soft yellow blanket. She leans against a wooden surface; her wary eyes are distant and pensive. Behind her, images seem to emerge from the woodwork in a range of green tones. The face of an ancestral ghost surfaces from the patterns of the wood grain.

If Procel and her associates choose to stay in Portland, look for them to be vital players in the years to come.