Tuesday, April 7

Senior show exhibits theme of war with art

It might surprise you to find a tent in the middle of an art
gallery. Even more surprising may be the hoards of clutter that
fill the small space.

However unconventional, fourth-year Thor Erickson’s piece
“The Fallout” on display in the New Wight Gallery in
Kinross is an interactive display that examines the items that
Americans hold dear.

For “Pre-War Art,” the UCLA Department of
Art’s senior show on display through Feb. 27, the art
students were asked to address the issues of a nation in pre-war
turmoil. They responded with work that runs the gamut of human
emotion using paintings, videography and sculpture.

Jenny Yurshansky, like many of the art students, focused on pain
and suffering with her four acrylic panels depicting different skin
injuries. Dan Rhodes also took a literal interpretation of the
project’s theme in his wood and paint creation of a
three-dimensional machine gun.

But with “The Fallout,” a tent scattered with
various objects, Erickson strays from the theme of pain that
saturates the gallery, focusing on the more practical elements of
surviving a possible third world war.

Among medicines, a video camera and a futon, the tent is filled
with photos of Erickson’s family, mementos from high school
and a Bible marked at Revelations. In showcasing this array of
objects, Erickson looks to address American materialism, while also
focusing on patriotism and core American values.

“(My piece) is trying to make a statement about America
that being an American doesn’t delineate what being human
is,” he said.

Erickson, who was relaxing in the tent at the time of the
interview, says that the interactive aspect and largeness of the
figurative bomb shelter is important in reaching viewers on a
personal level.

While this piece is unique in the exhibit, Erickson says he has
always been interested in transforming space, and has used such
spatial manipulation in past pieces. He has combined photography
and sculpture in most of his works, going along with his major,
which includes an emphasis in installation and photography.

Another important aspect to “The Fallout” is the
exaggeration of American patriotism, according to Erickson.
Completing his piece is a giant American flag that extends toward
the center of the room. Playing on a television set in the corner
of the tent is a tape of the World War II nuclear bomb propaganda
film, “The Atomic Café.”

“I chose the film in order to show the absurdity of all
the things that the government tells us about nuclear war,”
Erickson said. “(When I was researching the project) I
learned some very scary numbers about the world stockpile of
nuclear weapons.”

Erickson, a Montana native living in Los Angeles for the past
three-and-a-half years, also wanted to avoid the cultural division
some people make between East Coast/West Coast or New York/Los
Angeles and instead give a more holistic representation of American

“You have New York and you have Los Angeles, but America
is defined by everything in between,” he said.

The New Wight Gallery is located in the Kinross Building at Lot
32. Admission is free.

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