Hidden in an unassuming building on North Howard Street, Current Space, one of Baltimore’s numerous art galleries, is currently presenting a new exhibition, which attempts to engage viewers on the very abstract levels of form and color.
The goal of each piece in Confirmed Mood, according to the gallery’s Facebook page for the event, is to represent the “construction of the composition [...] as both the subject and object of a complete, logical, and intuitive organization of line, color, shape, form and texture.”
There is little that is pictorially represented, or that serves an obvious symbolic purpose — rather the forms themselves become metaphorical, abstracted from the particulars of everyday life.
They become the focus of the work rather than the technique through which the work is ultimately realized. While Aschely Cone, Sutton Demlong and Nick Primo, the three artists featured in Confirmed Mood, actualize this in very different modes, their dedication to shape and form unites their pieces.
Cone, born in 1985, received her MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2016. Her background, however, includes both a BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College and an MA in Art History from Tulane University.
Her works in Confirmed Mood center around the theme of “doubleness,” specifically the arch and shield, which, according to Cone, “suggests an opening, an absence, a possible future; it is passive. The shield obstructs, conceals, protects.”
Thus, Cone seems to want her work to produce two possible interpretations. The majority of her pieces in Confirmed Mood contain a clear arch shape, which the viewer can interpret as not only a void but its opposite — an obstruction.
However, the arches are often overlaid with a multitude of differently-colored lines, causing the central shape to recede into the background. This makes it more difficult to understand the form.
While several of Cone’s pieces display a meticulous effort with regards to color coordination and patterning, many give the impression of being composed of imprecise brushstrokes, which are not necessarily supposed to be such, leaving a more rigorous technical skill to be desired.
“I thought certain pieces in the exhibit were well done, and while I didn’t really like some of the others, I appreciated the common theme and attempted story,” sophomore Claire Chen, alluding to Cone’s arch/shield motif.
With a no less artistically inclined background, Demlong, born in 1990, earned his BFA in Sculpture and another in Art Education from Arizona State University before graduating from MICA’s MFA program in 2016.
His works focus on the relationship between form and material; Handcrafted wood, long yellow tassels made of string and pom poms feature prominently in three of his large sculptures exhibited in Confirmed Mood.
A viewer comes across one of these large, three-foot-long tassels hanging from the wall, presented as a singular work and wonders what its significance could be. The title, in this case, sheds some light — I Wish I Were Taller is its name. His work seems largely conceptually based, yet these concepts remain shrouded.
The forms of the pieces themselves are largely abstract, and their titles provide little insight into how one should interpret them. Some Wood, Some Rope, and a Bag of PomPoms, the title of one such piece, describes exactly that.
While the size of the piece and the materials Demlong uses draws attention, the way in which the various elements are placed together does not elucidate the concept he is attempting to convey.
Primo, the final featured artist, brings a slightly different background to bear on his art. Born in 1982, he received a BS in Art Education from Central Connecticut State University and worked as an art teacher in the Connecticut public school system for five years before obtaining his MFA from MICA in 2014.
Primo is currently employed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum as an exhibits specialist.
Out of all the featured pieces, his are perhaps the most interesting. They also bespeak a more precise technical skill.
As a whole, he describes his artwork as “embod[ying] a preoccupation with how and where form is imbued with meaning... Out in the world [construction materials] give shape to our spaces, but they exist in a person’s mind as mental objects and definitions representing a mass of associated ideas and emotions.”
One can see this exemplified in his piece There is something in us that has nothing to do with night and day. Parallel black wooden rods with legs on the end, connected to resemble a table, sit on top of two wide colorful pillars.
The height and width of the piece call to mind a table, and the viewer is inclined to accept it as such, that is, if it were not for the pillars which actually hold up the table-like section.
The presence of these perhaps not additional but central elements, alongside the contrast between the highly colorful bases and the dark wood, question the viewer’s expectations and assumptions about the art and form of the work itself.
“The art was an abstract exploration of shape and form, evoking the metaphorical implications and implicit emotions associated within everyday shapes,” sophomore Anthony Boutros said, commenting on the exhibit as a whole. “Viewers could explore the endless meanings invoked by each piece.”
While Confirmed Mood adheres to its theme by remaining largely abstract and leaving the interpretation of the works a very open question, the feeling one is left with after walking through the exhibit is perhaps most like that of sophomore Evan Drukker-Schardl.
He acknowledges that it “elucidated certain interplays between form and color in painting and sculpture.” Yet his final conclusion was simply: “It was mediocre.”
Confirmed Mood will remain open at Current Space for free through Oct. 1. You can view the pieces on Saturdays and Sundays between 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.