On a checkered floor among clothes and other bedroom litter, lay monsters.
STU Fine Arts student Molly McGovern sits in the center of the room with a paintbrush in one hand and Colt 45 in the other. A sad blue flicks onto her skin as she hastily finishes her paintings of monster graduation photos. These last minute pieces are a part of “Parlour Tricks,” the student art exhibit sitting in the basement of Margaret McCain Hall.
“I just like drawing things the way I see them and then make everything thing look like a nightmare. I just wanted the stuff for this show to look like an apocalyptic grandma’s haunted spaghetti recipe,” said McGovern.
“I chose to to do the grad photo paintings because I know a lot of people are getting them done right now and grad photos are so planned and so peppy. And these monsters are just not that.“
I first encountered McGovern’s art before I even knew her. We were at the same house party and she was nestled on the floor wrapped in a dirty blanket. Her hair was tied up by multicolored bows and she was wearing a dress that looked like a curtain as she scribbled melting faces and screaming ghouls into a notebook.
Later, she put on a lampshade on her head and said she was a tube of toothpaste, that’s when I snooped through her sketch book. Since then, McGovern has been my favorite artist.
“I don’t think anyone under the age of 20 likes my art except for Treeva, my old lady friend from a guest home.”
STU’s Art Department hosted “Parlour Tricks” as a way to showcase student talent in a proper setting and perhaps help the five young artists sell a few pieces. The exhibit was supposed to be a grad show, but expanded to include current students like McGovern. Emily Brown, Hannah Crowell, Dusty Green and Venita Williston were also thrown into the mix.
“Provincial landscape paintings of covered bridges or the shore of the Bay of Fundy are notably lacking in this exhibition. Instead influences on these artists extend from the pop art culture of comic books to occulted branches of recent art history,” said Fine Arts professor Robin Peck in the exhibit’s catalogue essay.
The five creative folks were picked by Peck because they stood out among their other classmates. Each of them not only have the desire to produce art, but the ability to learn and appreciate it.
“I don’t know if I’d really call myself an artist. I just like to draw for fun and show people who would like to see it,” said McGovern. “I find the whole idea of an art show to be new and weird. It’s kind of like a zoo, you put up all this stuff for people to stare at and they try to get some sort of meaning out of it, but it’s really just simple.”
However, McGovern had nothing to worry about at the exhibit’s opening. McCain Hall was packed with plenty of suited professionals, but they were all occupied with the President’s Seasonal Showcase. Few people glanced at the art on the walls.
Most of the student artists spent the night with each other, drinking wine out of tiny glasses and eating cold pizza.
“I’ve been to art shows where the artist is like Canada-famous and there have been super low turnouts. So, it’s no big deal,” said Dusty Green.
A few of them roamed the hall’s basement, complementing each other’s work.
“I was worried my stuff wasn’t dark enough for this show. There’s hanging limbs, glass skulls and monsters everywhere,” said Venita Williston.
Williston admits she doesn’t have any particular style, but mimics the works of her favorite artists. The pieces range from portraits to landscapes, sculptures to sky for hair.
“A lot of the time I just think about art as if it were zesty chicken. I don’t think art is something which should be taken seriously, I hate this idea of depressed pretentious artists,” said Williston. “But, overall, I think the show is a good opportunity to maybe get people to see our art, but if people don’t like my art then I won’t feel bad because I don’t think I’ve discovered any grandiose thing. It’s just something I do as a pastime.”
Tricks will be in the basement of MNMH until Jan. 30.