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From anatomy to astrology: A Prospective Glance

Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013

Updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013 16:01


Joyce Adiges /// The Spectrum

The vastly different works of artists Gildner, Guan and Kuhn can be viewed at the CFA Art Gallery until Feb. 23.


A love of animals, the recollection of a painful past and a fascination with polar ice caps after falling in love with a photo inside a National Geographic magazine brought together three vastly different lives.

These three exceptional artists, Dara Gildner, Yingri Guan and Erin Kuhn, were featured last Thursday in Noncommittal: A Prospective Glance #4. The annual art exhibit features the work of outstanding recent graduates from the Department of Visual Studies at the UB Art Gallery in the Center For the Arts.

“I thought it was a phenomenal show,” said senior photography major Jeanette Chwan. “The work is way beyond student level. All of them.”

An intersecting theme found throughout all of the artists’ work was the artistic portrayal of scientific phenomena, which were displayed in this exhibit in the form of horse anatomy, data visualization and astrology.

Gildner’s work mainly consists of large-scale drawings in charcoal and pastel. Her 10-square-foot piece, “The Young Trained Horse,” exudes a sense of calmness through its soft charcoal background while also emphasizing the strength and power of a black stallion with stark contrast and deep shading.

Animals are an important aspect of Gildner’s life. Growing up next to a Native American reservation and her experience as a horse trainer exposed her to a lot of wildlife at a young age. Gildner’s intimate knowledge of animals has played a large influence on her work.

Through her artwork, Gildner hopes to demonstrate her life as a horse trainer in an artistic manner.

“Horse training can be gentle, natural, [calming] … it can be beautiful,” Gildner said.

Guan found inspiration for her work in a National Geographic photograph. The photograph illustrated how oxygen and carbon dioxide bubbles trapped in ice were reservoirs of information about climate change over time. Guan decided to investigate further and used scientific data for her artistic work.

One of Guan’s most intriguing pieces used different colored gels inside clear plastic tubes to illustrate the levels of carbon dioxide in an ice sample over a period of time. The colored gels were placed in the tubes by hand, a tedious process for the artist.

However, the color allows the viewer to understand Guan’s concept more clearly: the visual representation of scientific data through artistic and aesthetic means.

In addition to her art degree, Guan also holds a degree in mathematics and she always looks to combine the two in her work. Guan’s mathematics degree has allowed her to deal with the perplexing data she uses in her artwork. Guan uses her artistic vision to interpret data in simple, artistic ways.

For Guan, the pieces in the exhibition are a starting point for her ambition to become a mathematician-artist-designer.

“Scientists work so hard to do research, but only a few people understand it … I’m just playing that middle role of translating [the data] visually,” Guan said.

Kuhn’s work in the exhibit is deeply personal, which is reflected in her artist statement at the show.

“Before I began sketching and planning [the project], I took a trip down memory lane to a childhood filled with abuse and neglect,” Kuhn said.

In spite of her dark past, Kuhn portrays her work quite beautifully through drawings and sculptures with an astrological aesthetic.

Kuhn’s most emotional pieces were her drawings that hid behind concealed cabinet doors. Mounted on a black wall, the cabinet doors open to images of a disheveled and injured child. Many of the child’s faces were hidden behind images of the moon, waxing and waning, to illustrate changing emotions that are felt in the life of an abused and neglected child.

While the viewing experience can be painful, the artwork is beautiful and highly detailed, with each strand of hair drawn carefully and exact.

Kuhn has used her artwork as a way to come to terms with her past. She uses the astrological imagery as a way to connect her emotions with something scientific.

“I wanted to philosophize my being, [to know] that there’s a reason for this. There’s a reason why I am here for this,” Kuhn said.

Kuhn also helps to reach out to others by showing such emotional pieces of work.

“I want people to come in here and feel that their pain can be something beautiful … they can learn from all the pain, the hurt and the struggles,” Kuhn said.

The work of the three artists drew a large crowd that appeared pleased with the students’ work.

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