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Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011

Talented Young Artists Form MIAD's 'Generation Next'

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In its Frederick Layton Gallery, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) presents the works of five talented young artists in the exhibition “Generation Next.” Curator and MIAD professor Jason Yi says that these artists “will make a significant contribution to the cultural life of the region.”

Tory Folliard Gallery introduced Madison's Sofia Arnold to Milwaukee last year. Arnold's oils and acrylics on board envision imaginary hideaways in nature inhabited by women of semi-heroic proportions. Bachelorette portrays several women surviving in a wilderness, communing with the flora and wildlife. The dual realities in Arnold's paintings appear to reflect dream-like places and hidden psychological spaces, havens for the self-possessed woman.

Melissa Cooke's works have appeared in two exhibitions at the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MWA). Her hyper-realistic brushed graphite on paper blurs the line between drawing and painting. In Skull Face, one of four drawings on exhibit, Cooke superimposes a distorted skull over her self-portrait, a comment perhaps on our culture's fascination with death and tragedy.

The works of sculptor and installation artist Emily Belknap have been shown at the MWA and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center's Hidden River Art Festival. Her two installations at MIAD use wire and wooden fences interspersed with exits and entrances. By exploring paths taken and not taken, Belknap's 3-D fences illustrate a confined environment or a state of being that offers exits when confronted with barriers in life.

Photographer Evan Baden displays work from his Illuminati Series. Nine C-prints mounted to Plexiglas eerily shine a light on faces of adolescent girls using modern technology. In the print Katie With LG Chocolate, cold cell phone light radiates against the girl's features, with a blue-black night background behind her. Is Baden asking viewers to contemplate his subject's impending womanhood while connected to a small, digital screen, a person communicating but also isolated?

Milwaukee's Sarah Gail Luther exhibits in a variety of mediums, including as a performance artist. Her pen on fabric duvet cover titled One Month renders objects from daily life.

Over the months and years ahead, one imagines that these artists will continue to stretch their talents and produce extraordinary work.

“Generation Next” continues through Dec. 10. A gallery talk featuring Melissa Cooke takes place 6:30 p.m. Nov. 22.