Unity in Dissonance

The theme Unity in Dissonance is an exceedingly beautiful idea. The thought that, despite drastic differences, there is a oneness that encompasses the world and knits every aspect of life together. It is the equalizer that keeps us bound to one another, to put this idea in a Pollyanna-esque perspective. Collectively standing in this Seattle Pacific University graphic design senior exhibition, I find very little unity and even less dissonance. One could argue that the entirety of this exhibition is in itself a symbol of unity and dissonance. All four artists, Alanna Sadeghian, Morgan Sheppard, Jasmine Johnson, and Jenell De Andre, created immensely different work from one another, but collectively stand together as bright-eyed young artists who, I would assume, want to make an impact in this world.

Perhaps the artist that has come the closest to touching upon this idea within their work is senior Morgan Sheppard in her collection of portraiture. Her series depicts the network of humanity and explains that we are all finely and intricately laced with one another. Though the idea behind this work is very well thought out and does not seem to err on the side of kitsch or cliché – I find that with the majority of her subjects being ethnically white, the potentially powerful message that Sheppard was trying to communicate was significantly lessened. The series photographs taken by the artist are very reminiscent of Warhol’s Screen Tests, with the black and white washed out qualities that make each individual look similar to one another.

Alanna Sadeghian, in my opinion, provided to be one of the strongest candidates in this exhibition. The collection of stamps that she has created, via linoleum block print, communicates a sentimentality that lends itself in a surprisingly positive manner that draws viewers into each design. I commend Sadeghian for effectively inviting viewers into her life to experience the places that have impacted her. Often, artists who attempt to create works as this unwittingly tend to be much more isolating than inviting. However, despite the laudations that I have been paying, even though the works by Sadeghian does edge toward the theme of Unity in Dissonance the personal superficiality of her work does not necessarily indulge this idea wholly. It seems as if she wanted to create something that everyone would “understand”, but by doing so risks becoming uninteresting.

I was more confused than intrigued by the works of Jasmin Johnson and Jenell De Andre. There is no doubt that both of these artists are talented and have exhibited that they are in the process of honing their skills, but one cannot help but think that these works were not created as a part of a group exhibition intended to share one meaning. Johnson, initially, drew me in with her brightly colored paintings depicting jellyfish. Though she uses each canvas well, often creating swirling constellations with her use of lines and space, I must admit I was drawn in more so because of my interest in sea creatures and not because of the works themselves. De Andre’s photography was the largest question mark in my head. At first glance one feels as if they are exploring extraterrestrial territory, launched into space and trying to make out what the unfocused beams of light are that are in front of you. De Andre describes her work as a depiction of her family’s oyster farm, however the subject is obliterated into nonexistence through her heavy abstractions.

These young artists have strived to create works that express harmony in spite of discord, their work is apparent that they have worked incredibly hard. Although this criteria was not necessarily met, the work expresses budding expertise in the field of art.

Landry Desmond

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