When: May 3-31 2015
Terra Incognita is the Latin expression for “uncharted territory.” The Mills College MFA show, currently on view at the Mills College Art Museum (5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland), takes that title, although its not startlingly novel. It does, however, veer all over the map to form a quality collection of works from emerging artists. The work of Malena Lopez-Maggi kept my attention the longest. Manipulating various media, she elaborates on whimsicality and the affective quality of textures like fur, silicon, and mineral. In one central sculpture, transparent rods support a wooden staircase of flattened, white clouds (similar to those in Super Mario), while a large mirror reflects the structure from below. On the conceptual end, Jess Smith’s work critiques online consumerism through fictional commercials, Amazon reviews, and products — such as a doggy chest carrier. The world she presents is eerily superficial, yet could be totally real. Less absurd, the work of Jackie Farkas brings to light the tactile convergences of painting and photography, by brushing chemicals onto photo paper and placing the developed products next to abstract oil and acrylic paintings of a related style and palette. Altogether, the work is well executed and worth a look.