For eight decades, the Cleveland Institute of Art's Faculty Show has provided concrete proof to students that their instructors know what they're talking about — and given comfort to their parents that their money is well spent. The public, of course, has also been beneficiary to the showcase of the venerable institute's best minds and hands. This year is no different, with 40 leaders of their craft displaying some 60 pieces of work.
The massive show is far ranging, touching on everything from architectural sketches, medical illustrations, and nutritional games for children to pieces that are purely "art for art's sake."
In that last category, professor and glass artist Brent Kee Young has achieved national renown for delicate glassworks created from wiry strands of glass pulled into precise geometric forms. The works look at once solid and ephemeral, possessed of a weight they cannot possibly support — yet they do. His "Cubism I: Essence of Study" is comprised of two rectangular glass forms, each with a concave indentation on one vertical face. The two depressed sides are set an inch or so apart from one another, so that anyone standing anywhere but right beside the piece sees a unified cube and ball. The optical trickery is an engaging addition to a work already remarkable for its technical mastery.
Also striking are the works by Amber Kempthorn, an adjunct professor in the drawing department. In the background of her collage "Sorrow," a teal sun hovers over white mountains. In the foreground, an airborne octopus-like creature smiles fangs at a lifeboat full of panicked gulls. Her work recalls surrealist paintings, Eastern art, illustrations from trippier children's books, and even frames from the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. Yet Kempthorn retains a voice of her own, her richly colored works displaying not only compositional depth but narrative depth as well.
Other pieces in the current show reflect Northeast Ohio interests. Printmaking department chair Maggie Denk-Leigh's "Great Lakes: What Are They Worth?" mounts the outlines of the Midwest's liquid assets in copper-green handmade paper. And Bill Brouillard's "Soul of the Machine" is bound to strike a chord in a former manufacturing town. The ceramicist sets a table with plates decorated with stylized images of screws, drills, and wiring. In the table's steel legs, ceramic birds perch in hollows, embodying fertile hopes for a post-industrial age.
A public reception will be held Thursday, August 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. The show continues through October 6 in CIA's Reinberger Galleries, 11141 East Blvd. To learn more, call 216-421-7407 or go to cia.edu/facultyshow.