Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Yesterday in the List Gallery, Senior majors Adrian Davalos, Genise Choy, and Sebastian Moya opened their senior exhibits. Their work will remain on display in the List through May 4.
Adrian Davalos’ color photography offers articulate and engrossing looks at architecture, both interior and exterior. As Davalos puts it, his thematic interest in the work presented is in “trying to find systems of structure in the world and the need to impose systems of structure.” Davalos also identifies a concern with the “definitions of home and its constructed meaning.” Many of Davalos’ photographs have a familiar and collected quality. The structures he presents are both contained and containing, with subdivisions of organized shapes. These images invite the viewer in and create a space for the viewer to stand.
While Davalos had worked casually with digital photography in the past, he began to seriously pursue photography while studying at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Since then, Davalos continued to develop and edit his own photographs. Davalos also credits his work at Swarthmore with Professors Celia Reissman, in Foundation Art, and Daniel Heymans, in Printmaking, in encouraging his interest in design. He points to photographer Wolfgang Tilmans as an inspiration of his, “I like his aesthetic, it has a subtlety that I would like to be seen in my work.” This interest in the ‘subtle’ or nuanced design has served Davalos well in his photography, which speaks to his strong eye for composition.
With an equally dynamic compositional approach, Genise Choy’s portrait paintings allow the viewer to experience a split second of drama, mischief, or mystery. As Choy observes, “The overarching theme is that looking at someone’s face you can make all of these assumptions but because it’s just a split second you need context… Sometimes expressions can be misread.”
For Choy, whose work has been influenced by photorealist painter Gerhardt Richter as well as photographer Diane Arbus, these paintings attest both to her strong technical development as a painter and what she has noticed is a recurring interest in figures that are “missing people, or feeling lonely or misinterpreted.” Her work, then, speaks eloquently and at times eerily for these figures, as in a portrait of a mentally challenged woman with whom Choy worked in Italy. Though the piece began with photographs of her model, Choy began to recognize as she worked how well the painting reflected the way many have a sense of “not belonging or confusion.” As in several of Choy’s pieces, the painting effectively balances black and white with color in ways that both support and surprise the viewer’s sense of the emotional content in the painting.
Another unconventional take on the figure can be found in Sebastian Moya’s selection of pieces, strongly influenced by cartoons and comic books as well as puppetry. Moya’s range of work, much like his ‘sketchbook page’ series, presents an energetic display of possibilities for working with the figure. Moya’s pieces include prints, drawings, stencils, etchings, books (which he encourage the viewer to handle… with care), and a film clip from Moya’s animation. There is also a shadow-puppet inspired stencil piece that was in part inspired by the work of stop-motion animator Lotte Reiniger’s work in the 1930s.
Moya observes the way in which his work has come full circle over the course of the year, “I was [initially] inspired mainly with cartoons, then I was into comics, and then into illustrating and [finally] illustrating in a cartoonish style.” Drawing on his own coursework over the summer in cartooning as well as his advanced studies last semester in printmaking, Moya’s work buoyantly and boldly brings the viewer into the magical and thoroughly enjoyable space of his sketchbook, much as his animation clip presents the story of a magical sketchbook coming to life.