Berman Museum opens Annual Student Exhibition

Lisa Nghe

The Berman Museum opened its Annual Student Exhibition on Friday, April 6. The Exhibition showcases the work of fifteen Ursinus’ students. Two of the featured artists will be seniors Aubrey Basla and Shelby Bryant. Basla works primarily with film, while Bryant focuses mainly on photography.

    Senior Aubrey Basla created three short videos to be displayed in the Exhibition. The Exhibition will also feature several of her sculptures and drawings that according to Basla, compliment the videos and reveal “the preproduction process as well as the combination of all [her] ideas.” Her rough sketches, sculptures, and costumes are plastered on a wall next to the screen that will show her videos. 

    Basla explained that “the videos themselves came from three separate places. The first short video came from the book And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. And I took the ten little soldier boys that the book is based off of and did a short animation for that.” 

    Her second film in the series has a romantic plot, something Basla said she has not tackled before. She put her own spin on the genre by making it a human-animal romantic relationship between a human and a bird – “but the weirdness isn’t that he’s a bird. The weirdness is just that they don’t work out,” noted Basla. Finally, her third video, Nine Obstructions, was created after Basla’s classmates challenged her to create a video with nine restraints.

    Basla’s entire installation’s inspiration “[came] from the Tim Burton Exhibit at the MoMa back in 2010 and Mark Dion’s exhibition where all the piecemeal storyboards and sketches and these awesome objects come together to form one piece.” 

    Senior Shelby Bryant will be presenting three collections of photographs. The first one, Self, is made up of five Polaroids that “deal with different elements [of] identity and relationship.” 

    Identity is composed up of three Polaroids framed together that engage in the “complexity of identity [in] photographic form,” said Bryant.

  “They’re more abstract and cover issues regarding personal identities and external identity,” Bryant added. 

    The last of the three photography collections is called Reflection, which Bryant noted was her favorite. 

    For this piece, Bryant used a technique called “Polaroid Emulsion Lift.” According to Bryant, Polaroid Emulsion Lift is when “you put the [Polaroid] photograph in water and [transfer] it to another medium, such as paper.” 

     Bryant, however, took this up a notch and decided to transfer the Polaroids onto a mirror instead. The entire process involves putting the photograph in water – however, as she explained, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Bryant stated that “the photograph is at a very vulnerable state when [handling] it [in water].”

     Her inspiration comes from artists similar to Andy Warhol and Irving Penn “who use portrait work to bring peoples’ identity out or hide it.” Bryant said that Warhol’s self-portraits, though different from her own, “gave [her the] motivation to work on [her] own struggles and made [her] question how [she] would want to photograph them.” 

     Bryant noted that she has always looked up to Irving Penn. To her, his work dealing with “celebrities and models in corners [is her] favorite work [because] he takes away signifiers of identity [from] his backgrounds and, by doing [s], the person [in the portrait] becomes either more dynamic or less, and it expresses a sense of their personality.”

     Bryant’s installation was also inspired by some personal struggles, and because of this deeply personal nature of her art she has dedicated most of her time into these pieces making her “truly felt like an artist,” though she is not majoring or minoring in the field. She has, however, “spent four years taking photography classes to have fun and practice [her] skills.” 

     The fact that she’s a part of the exhibition “makes [her] feel extremely grateful to have the opportunity to take these classes at Ursinus.”

     There will be a reception for the Student Exhibition at the Berman Museum on April 19 during CoSA from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to celebrate the Ursinus’ student artists. The reception will be free and open to the public. The other featured artists will include: Aubrey Basla, Kate Bormann, Shelby Bryant, Teddi Caputo, Mario Heitman, Victoria Javes, Morgan Larese, Yanlin Li, Oriah Lopez, Kayla O’Mahony, Sonny Rimler, Sarah Wilbert, Syndey Cope, Joe Simon, and Rob Varney.

     “We spent a lot of time making [our artwork], so why shouldn’t we show it? It shouldn’t just sit around collecting dust,” said Basla on the Exhibition. “You know, if you’re proud of what you made, you shouldn’t hide it like you’re ashamed of it.”