With all the uncertainty around the future of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Corcoran College of Art + Design, the name of the annual student show—-NEXT—-seems hopelessly ironic this year. But what about the art?
The most notable sculptural works include Mayte Waldivia Veslasco’s eerie, spiritual series of five mounted antique, oval wood frames, each transformed by the addition of a different surface coating—-bark, stones, dried flowers, or wax.
A few design works stand out, including Carissa L. Sudjono’s display of plain white boxes holding cigarette packs, emblazoned with the pack’s intended branding vibe, summarized with uncannily accurate brevity. Annie Harrod, leveraging another vice, deconstructs craft-brew label iconography in a piece called “99 Bottles.”
Several photographers toy gainfully with the idea of doubling. Olivia Jablonski offers double-exposure portraits of young women in a wooded setting (top); Olivia Davison repurposes family photographs by turning them into mirror images; Amanda Odelle Hevener addresses life difficulties through the lens of relationships between twins.
Other photographic series take a more straightforward approach. Bryan Dozier produces strong documentary images of homeless people using an inky black technique, while Taylor King channels Aaron Siskind and Minor White by producing large-scale black-and-white abstract photographs that appear to be of natural surfaces.
Kendelyn Ouellette documents something so common in D.C. that we’ve become desensitized to it—-the American flag—-and finds its design lurking in such unexpected locations as a forgotten newspaper on a doorstep, a forlornly vacant tax-preparation office, and the shirt of a protester (middle). Shelly Silva produces large-scale, brown-hued images that suggest Rorschach blots or fluid-dynamic images (bottom).
But what’s notable about several of the other photographic works on display is that careful and well-thought-out presentation outshines the content.
Conor Martin displays his images as retro 35mm slides, arranged informally on a vintage wood lightbox, while Tracy Eustaquio mounts her series of windshield-taken photographs at a downward angle and nestled into both sides of a wall junction, effectively communicating a sense of movement. And Julia Clouser transforms photographs with the figures cropped out into absorbingly ethereal images by projecting them, in dreamily washed out fashion, onto Plexiglas hung from the ceiling.
Also on view: Celebrated youth portrait photographer Rineke Dijkstra turns to four-channel video in 2009’s “The Krazyhouse,” a charming platform for five young dancers in the Liverpool club scene to show their stuff against a blank white background.
NEXT through May 18 and Dijkstra through June 15 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun 10-5, Wed 10-9. Exhibit is Free.