Matt Kokoski, mixed media collage on wood panel
Last year, the Sandusky Cultural Center presented Oberlin Connection, an effort by curator Charles Mayer to build a stronger relationship between art communities in Sandusky and Oberlin, by showcasing the creative energy of Oberlin’s diverse arts community in Sandusky. In an effort to build a stronger connection with Cleveland, the exhibition is traveling to Doubting Thomas Gallery in Tremont this Friday. The latest incarnation of Oberlin Connection opens with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. as part of this month’s Tremont Art Walk.
Participating artists include Matthew Gallagher, Matt Kokoski (aka Spare Parts Arts), Anastasia Linger, John Miyazawa, James Ward Peake, Mason Thomson (Cleveland Debut) and R. (Richard) Thomson Assemblages.
Matt Kokoski (aka Spare Parts Art) had a solo show at Doubting Thomas in March after re-locating to Cleveland from Oberlin. His work for this show includes mixed media collages on wood panels, as well as a handful of acrylic fluid pours on canvas. The mixed media collages are created with acrylic paint, acrylic and alcohol inks and hand-cut collages atop wood panels. These works suggest a satirical search for meaning in the decay a detached modern society.
“Although I didn’t move to Oberlin officially until my high school graduation — literally the night of — I had been hanging out there on a daily basis for 4 years and therefore will always consider it my home,” explains Kokoski. “Oberlin is the place that shaped my personality as a young adult and the place where my artwork began to emerge. The enthusiasm for art and music in Oberlin is unmatched in my mind anywhere else. There is always something happening, someone to help, advice and guidance, free classes, community support, and most of all the connections gained by the plethora of fellow artists/musicians. Oberlin is a nurturing home for a creative mind to thrive.”
Anastasia Linger’s work is also two-dimensional mixed media. However, her background (and bachelor’s degree) in science, as well as art, plays a major role in her work. Linger’s practice is heavily influenced by geometry, physics and biology. Her work explores polarized themes such as natural/artificial, organic/inorganic, structure/chaos and real/impossible.
Similarly, James Ward Peake’s abstract, folded paper origami work is also influenced by geometric patterns. Each work is created with a single sheet of paper without the use of cutting, tearing, or adding additional paper to the original sheet.
“I generally refer to the works I create with folded paper as ‘origami’ (which translates literally in Japanese as ‘folded paper’), though the forms presented here do not represent familiar objects such as birds, fish, frogs and flowers,” says Peake. “Rather than deal with representational origami in the traditional sense, my sculptures take a more abstract approach. Sometimes referred to as ‘corrugation origami,’ this style of folding employs a system of recursive and reflective pleating. One could loosely describe it as a glorified approach to accordion folding. The beauty of these faceted arrays relies entirely in the interplay of light and shadow that stems from multiple, simultaneously creased edges.”
Rather than displaying the folded paper works in the gallery, Peake’s final product is a collection of photographs. This allows him to control how the object is viewed, in terms of perspective and lighting.
He explains, “Because these pleated paper sculptures have everything to do with light and shadow, photography has become a natural avenue for presenting my work. This allows me to control the environments and capture the paper in a way that is difficult and somewhat impossible to achieve in a gallery setting. What’s more, some of the photographs here make the use of brilliance of natural sunlight, ever-changing and again, impossible to replicate in an indoor exhibition space.”
Peake lives and works in Oberlin as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of the nonprofit organization FAVA (the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts). He founded FAVAGAMI, the first Oberlin-based origami group. His work utilizes a wide variety of media including paper sculpture, assemblage, mask making, paper mache, graphic design, silversmithing, poster making, music and theatrical performance.
John Miyazawa was born and raised in Los Angeles. His interest in clay began at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, while fulfilling one of his General Education requirements. After graduation, he spent three years in Japan, living and working with a respected potter and visiting Japan’s many famous pottery villages.
Before Cleveland, Miyazawa worked in Pittsburgh with the Lerner-Centered Arts Integration Program, a collaboration between Pittsburgh public schools and Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. The project connects teaching artists with school teachers to integrate art into their curriculum. Now living in Oberlin, he earned an MFA in Ceramics from Kent State University in 2014, and works as the Ceramics Studio Coordinator and Instructor at NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts and Technology.
Richard Thomson (1954-2015) will be represented by both his assemblages and one of his sons, Mason. Richard Thomson co-founded 3 Door Studio in Oberlin. His work includes found object assemblage shrines, figurative oil paintings, sculpture and jewelry.
Of the artists in the exhibition, Richard Thomson once said, “To all the kids in the Oberlin Connection, as individuals we are all great emerging artists, together we are a force of nature."
Mason Thomson is only 17 years old. His work in Oberlin Connection includes acrylic paintings and pen and ink drawings. Despite his young age, Thomson’s work deals is influenced by complex societal and psychological issues.
"People, everyday, go to work, school, outside, and walk outside of their house and have to show that they do not have anything wrong with them, just to fit in,” the young artist explains of his Unknown Collection. “I see that everyone has a gas mask to filter the toxins spewed by society and heartache that they deal with in their lives. Some people show pain because their gas mask was damaged so much by society, the defense has fallen. People put a smile on their face, but really behind the mask, they are hurting. Do not let people destroy your gas mask, nor do not let people destroy you as a person."
Oberlin Connection opens with a reception during the Tremont Art Walk this Friday, Aug. 14 from 6 to 10 p.m. Additionally, the Tremont Art Walk includes work by Anthony A. Dunn and Rob Rosin at LOOP, live portraiture by the Pretentious Artists of the Tremont Literary Café and more.
(Doubting Thomas) 856 Jefferson St.