It is an established fact that art is subjective. A piece may evoke certain emotions to one person, when to another person it may evoke different emotions. Subjective is something art will always be, although original, fascinating and gratifying are not always consistent characteristics among artistic pieces.
Sweetbreads, the First Year Graduate MFA (Master of Fine Arts) show at UT Downtown Gallery on 106 S. Gay St., displays the aforementioned adjectives and even more redeeming qualities.
The show consists of various types of artwork, from sculptures to paintings and unfamiliar forms such as etchings and collographs, which are a printmaking processes used on cardboard or wood. Both prove to be the more interesting pieces of the show. The gallery, although small itself, was brimming with artistic talent from seven different individuals. On opening night, the artists were present and willing to explain their perspectives and processes on their work.
The pieces that stand out the most are the mixed media pieces by Thomas Wharton. Displaying more than four pieces of original work, Wharton's artistic style becomes familiar after just one tour of the gallery; his pieces are inviting and invigorating, provoking gallery-goers to lean into the pieces rather than take a step back. Wharton's "Crisis: Why the crisis?" and "My Vomit is actually interesting, but it's still vomit" both have the same types of textures, but their contrasting colors awaken completely different emotions while keeping with a similar theme.
Many pieces are extremely personal, such as the sculpture "Qui transtulit sustinet" by Kevin Kao. Featuring a head topped and bottomed with pieces of wood specifically from San Diego and Knoxville, wrapped with red string. This piece automatically draws viewers in with fascination and curiosity due to its simple yet complex form.
The layout of the gallery is very inviting and unintimidating. The gallery stayed quaint, simple and white; in other words, it provids a typical yet perfect backdrop for the various pieces on display. The position of some sculptures, however, did seem to be rather odd. The handful of hanging pieces distract from the flow of the art and constrict the interior space that should be available for visitors either to walk or to examine their favorite pieces.
The details in almost every piece are thought-provoking, making one wonder how the artist created the lines and textures on painted pieces and why the art is divided into two separate foundations when it could have been put together. The questionability of the art is what makes it so great, giving each person a different perspective on each piece. Not one piece in the whole gallery could be easily explained or understood, thus making it all the more intriguing, as well as making it easy to lose track of time.
These artists all have previous education in fine arts, with many having come to UT to earn their master's degree in fine arts, where they had the opportunity to display their pieces at the gallery. But ultimately, the real opportunity is to be able to attend Sweetbreads: displaying exquisitely-crafted art in such a formal yet pleasant way will certainly delight experts and novices of Knoxville's art scene. Bread might not always be sweet, but Sweetbreads definitely had a savory aftertaste.
The exhibition will be on display until Sept. 1. The gallery is free and open to the public.