This winter, the McDaniel College Rice Gallery holds an exhibit centering around the theme of obsessive compulsiveness in visual art. The exhibit, called “Compulsory Measures,” explores the process of quieting one’s mind and dealing with social anxiety by means of obsessive compulsive behavior. Curated by Reni Gower, the exhibit displays works of pattern, symmetry, layers, and more. Though the body of works is diverse in style and process, the one thing they all have in common is the amount of time put into each piece. At the gallery opening, Gower stated that all of the works aim to emphasize ritual, process, system, and meditation. Many of the pieces involve painstaking processes of layering and precision, emphasizing the concepts of obsessive compulsion.
Many of the artists exhibited in “Compulsory Measures” take the theme to an even deeper level. Jorge Benitez, for example, plays with perspective by painting images of impossible architecture. Gower explained how Benitez’s work explores his compulsion to examine the state of the world and how things came to be. Pushing that topic, artist Joan Elliot’s work, comprised of oil and graphite on canvas covered panel, features complicated patterns woven together into perfect symmetry. Gower explained that as Elliot’s reflection on the quest and ultimate failure to attain the perfection of God.
One of the more eye-catching pieces at the exhibit is Kristy Deetz’ Reciprocity of Fold: a unique work comprised of acrylic on cotton scarf mounted on cotton canvas. From a few feet away, this piece simply looks like a wrinkled sheet hanging on the wall, however, as one steps closer, it quickly becomes clear that this is not a sheet at all, but in fact a painstakingly patterned painting designed to look like wrinkled cloth. Gower described this type of painting as “Trompe-l’œil” or fooling of the eye. She also explained how Deetz sought to imprint herself in her work, following the theme of compulsion. Deetz has two of these on display in the exhibit—both truly a marvel to behold.
As a special treat, McDaniel’s very own art professor Steven Pearson is featured in “Compulsory Measures.” His pieces are composed of micron on layered duralar. Each layer holds a different image, all of which work together to create the piece as a whole. Gower described his pieces as a deep inward looking which displays his own personal history as well as a focus and exploration of contemporary news.
Overall, “Compulsory Measures” is a well-organized and gripping exhibit that provides fresh insight and a new perspective on obsessive compulsion and how it can lead people to a further understanding of both the world and their inner battles. It features many talented artists and their intriguing pieces. It is well worth a look inside before its closing on March 1.