How do you define a masterpiece? In its current exhibition, Master Pieces, Manifest Gallery takes a literal approach to the question.
The juried show requested submissions from artists who are working toward or have just completed a Master of Arts degree. Thirteen works by eight artists were chosen from more than 300 entries, and these artists were studying as far away as the Bay Area's California College of the Arts and New Mexico State University or as close to home as Miami University and the University of Kentucky.
Through painting, photography and sculpture, these artists create a dialogue with masters of the past, critique society or explore a concept -- all with exceptional technical control. Christina Empedocles' oil paintings disrupt the illusion of depth common in the genre of landscape by including seams, knick-knacks and other unlikely objects on otherwise conventional images of cloudy blue skies or seascapes. She calls attention to and plays with the two-dimensionality of the medium.
Metra Mitchell's oil paintings explore the nude figure while relishing the paint in rich colors and bold strokes. The subject's gaze -- or, in one decapitated instance, lack of one -- and the inclusion of a single object creates a haunting effect.
Gayle Shaw Clark's sculpted flower-forms are magnified in scale and titled as "Contestants." The pure white stoneware forms on black pedestals are understated yet over the top, feminine yet phallic. Chris Bohach also works in three dimensions, with a large, striking installation, "Axis Mundi (To Distill)."
These and the other artists of Master Pieces represent a wide range of approaches and perspectives to art and art-making. As recent or approaching Masters of Arts graduates, they'll contribute to society and future generations of artists.
Does your definition of a masterpiece match Manifest's? Go see for yourself.
MASTER PIECES is on view through Aug. 15 at Manifest Creative Research Gallery in Walnut Hills. Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.