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Through all the Sturm und Drang of the past few years at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, the last thing one would have expected to remain unchanged was the branding for the school’s annual student thesis exhibit. But it’s April, and while the Corcoran Gallery of Art is no more and George Washington University runs the place, it’s once again time for the sprawling exhibit titled—as always—”NEXT.”
Several works of painting and sculpture stand out. Michael Schiffer brings an organic touch to Carl Andre-style minimalism with several meditations on wood grain and metallic patina. Elana Casey creates large oil portraits in gold and black, offering an aesthetic that blends West African styles with the painterly approach of Gustav Klimt.
Britney Gilbert offers an inspired installation of raspberry-shaped agglomerations of moss and large-crystal salt (above) that wouldn’t look out of place in the Renwick Gallery’s “Wonder” salon down the street, while Tracey Lee contributes a wide range of glass and stoneware cups and vases, exquisitely arranged on a large wall of shelves.
The theses by Corcoran photography students share one seemingly inescapable theme: the search, usually elusive, for security and redemption.
For Lauren Silva, it’s a documentary project on D.C.’s at-risk animals, from nighttime roadkill to a fawn on the run (top) to an animal control officer’s eerie pietà with a raccoon. For Olivia Harding, it’s a moody, black-and-white chronicle of her mother’s fight against breast cancer.
For Elizabeth Elise Shannon, it’s an attempt to come to terms with her plus-size body through a series of no-holds-barred self-portraits. For Julianna Clarke, it’s recovery from an abusive relationship, told elliptically through bleak images of shed hairs and bloodstains.
For Mariah Miranda, it’s a quest to photograph survivors of trauma in places where their trauma remains all too real; her muted color images exude a deceptive, enigmatic peace. And for Madison Richeson, it’s an effort through gritty black-and-white images (right) to trace the recovery of a fellow Corcoran student facing a diagnosis of paralysis.
Through May 15 at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, 500 17th St. NW