After many years of painstaking preparation, several art graduate students have begun showing their work at the Conley Art Gallery.
Art instructor Stephanie Ryan said that the art grad exhibition exists as one of the final projects for students.
“This is the culminating experience,” she said. “So [the artists] don’t just make a bunch of work and show it, they have to make work for this show that is focused on one, original idea.”
The average time an art grad student is in the program is roughly three years, Ryan said. Around two years in, the students choose a theme for their exhibition, which they are given a week to showcase.
“They put lots of effort into this exhibitions, and they’ll create their work over the time that they’re in the graduate program,” Ryan said.
The project began with art by Sharon Scott. Starting Monday was Kyle Hailey, and following him will be Adam Mena, Agneiszka Gill, Jonathan Mathis and Dawn Hart.
Grad student Kyle Hailey began showing off his print art on Monday. His work brings modern advertising into focus, while poking fun at its oft-confusing message.
“It’s kind of a satire on modern advertising,” Hailey said. “They’re basically cultural puns.”
Hailey, who is majoring in art with a focus in printmaking, said that Americans in this modern culture would understand the humor behind his pieces.
One of Hailey’s favorite prints is a parody of a ketchup ad. Titled simply as, “Ketchup,” the piece become a fan-favorite.
“There’s a ketchup bottle on the bottom right-hand corner, and it just says, ‘Oh god yes.’ And it says, ‘But what the hell does this have to do with ketchup?’ That one is definitely a lot of people’s favorite,” Hailey said.
Hailey said he wants people to think about the advertising they see every day. But most of all, he wants people to have a good time when they visit his gallery.
“I just want people to laugh,” he said. “That’s the basics of what I want. If nobody really got anything else, I just want [people] to go in there, be able to laugh at a couple pieces and be done with it.”
He said he wants conversation to open up while people look over his work. Hailey asks that people discuss their own experiences with advertisement, and consider the thought that went behind it.
Within each print, Hailey said he has hidden a piece of himself.
“There are a lot of little, almost secret things that I put into the pieces – secret images, secret numbers,” he said. “If you see a bar code it always means something. If you see a number, it’s generally linked to something.
“Names are always significant in my pieces, whether it’s like a Greek mythology reference to something that I’m doing in my life.”
In most of his prints, he uses white ink, which, on the white canvas, is hidden unless viewed at a certain angle. He calls it “white space,” and uses the ink to hide secret messages.
One piece features a girl wearing a dog on her shoulder with the tag line, “Fur so real you’d think it’s still breathing.” Next to it, when looking at an angle, an image of a scarab beetle appears.
Hailey said he enjoyed how ancient Egyptians used images to convey language. He uses white space to hide chemical compounds, his favorite scent and places where he has worked.
“The white layers definitely range the most, but they definitely tell the most about myself,” he said.
Hailey began his career in art at age six, drawing pictures of his favorite comic book characters on paper. Early on, Hailey had a fascination of imposing people on canvas.
“I was all about comic book heroes,” he said. “People have always been more interesting to me to draw than landscapes or anything like that.”
Hailey said his favorite artist is Bansky, an underground graffiti artist in the United Kingdom.
“He’s so funny in anything that he does,” Hailey said. “But he’s a little more aggressive with his work than I am.”
With graduation from the program coming quickly, Hailey is looking at his life in the future.
“Ultimately, I’d really love to be a professor, but if I didn’t make it as a professor I would actually be pretty interested in just keeping my position right now with Fish and Game, or going to another state and doing education outreach.”
Hailey works with the Department of Fish and Game, painting pictures of the native trout for educational purposes. He also contributed to a coloring book, which he said was one of his most enjoyable projects to date.
Though his gallery is his focus this week, Hailey is still busy creating art, and is trying a new idea. Once more, it will be work that revolves around people.
“I kind of want to tie in people’s perceptions about people with candy,” Hailey said. “It’s probably the weirdest thing I could [do]. It’s going to have a lot more personal relationships with people that I’m familiar with.”
Hailey’s reception is on Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Conley Art Gallery.