Modern art machines attack

Sculptures by senior art major Justin Shaw are inspired by the fears and concerns society expresses toward technological advances.

Sculptures by senior art major Justin Shaw are inspired by the fears and concerns society expresses toward technological advances.

Melissa Dunson

Alien machines have taken over Spiva Art Gallery.

The current exhibit is the culmination of years of hard work for five Missouri Southern seniors.

A significant segment of the exhibit is populated by a troupe of otherworldly wood and resin machines by Justin Shaw, studio art major. Some of the unusual inventions shown include “Mobile Maintenance Machine” more resembling an aluminum squid floundering on the floor, tentacles outstretched, than someone’s homework assignment, and the largest piece shown, “Untitled,” similar to a eight-foot-tall, one-legged backhoe with a pickaxe for an arm.

In a written artist statement, Shaw said his futuristic creations were inspired by movies, cartoons and toys he had growing up during the ’80s.

“It [his collection] seems lighthearted at first glance, a deeper investigation reveals a seriousness and foreboding undertone of future advances in technology that will produce very wondrous, as well as very ominous, things.”

Some of Shaw’s other sculptures show the darker side of menacing modernism by addressing society’s fear and dislike of subjects like cloning, robotics, medicine and artificial intelligence. A piece titled “Collared Virus,” a large eyeball with two mechanical legs and metal suction-cup toes, greets startled gallery visitors by coming to life with the help of a fan, light bulb and motion sensor.

Students who have seen the exhibit appreciated Shaw’s wild imagination and the machines resulting from it.

Holly Boyer, secondary art education major, exhibits wild, color-rich interpretations of nature and abstract modern swirls of her own imagination in a selection of watercolor and oil paintings.

A particularly personal piece is “Newborn,” a yellow and red close up of a fetus or newborn child’s face in all its delicate intricacy.

“That piece is very special to me because I painted it when I was pregnant with my daughter,” Boyer said. “She always says it’s a picture of her.”

The only graphic design major showcased in this exhibit, Grant Cottrell, has a showing focusing on design including posters for various events and advertisements including sports and cell phones, product packaging, CD covers and jewelry.

Stephanie Dutra, secondary art education major, expresses her style through various means including long Asian-style wall hangings and sculptures made from strips of clay.

One striking piece is a barely discernable figure of a mother carved in a block of wood in an ancient style that provokes all the depth of feeling with the simplicity of the purest minimalist.

Lyda Konstanzer, studio art major, exhibited a diverse mixture of styles and mediums produced during her time at Southern.

Konstanzer repeats images of wings and faces in her artwork, especially focusing on her jewelry.

“I really try to work with freedom and identity and what it means in my pieces,” Konstanzer said. “They (wings and faces) are personal symbols I created for myself.”

Her favorite piece is a pin with wings enclosing a green stone titled “We Love to Fly” because she sees the comedy in its resemblance of a twisted flight attendant’s pin. Konstanzer’s sculptures were a favorite among students who had viewed the exhibit. Pieces like “It’s What’s for Dinner,” consisting of a wooden cat with a fish hanging in its open belly, showed Konstanzer’s style and sense of humor.

Konstanzer said there was a good turnout for the opening reception held April 18. Although preparation for the event was stressful at times, she thought the result was well worth the effort.

“It’s a great feeling when you get to stand back and look at it and share it with other people,” Konstanzer said.

The exhibit runs through Friday.