Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Travis Takes A Crack At Art Criticism


Welcome to my corner of the Journalism 392 classes take on the stairwell murals.

I'm going to take a shot at art criticism here. Pictured is a piece by Mary Ann Bailey, painted in the Du Bois Library stairwell in 1990. It located in the Western most stairwell between the 7-8th floors.

I like this image. I can't interview the artist who created it, but at first glance it appears to be one of three things. A pure abstract, a mountainous landscape, or a Dali-esque crack at a seashore. The picture has some features that can be interpreted as mountainous, a large blue space that bleeds from sky to ocean, and some bold lines that don't register as anything found in nature. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer seems to be living in the upper right of the image. I'm thinking the abstract and complex landscape interpretation is the most likely.

Information about these pieces is limited. We know Mary Ann Bailey was a UMass student, but we can be sure about little else. The work seems to be composed in acrylic, its sheen gives it away. It's also remarkably well preserved. It's good to see that there hasn't been any significant graffiti in the lower half of the stairwell.

Mrs Bailey chose a mostly subdued palate, working mostly in pastels and brown hues. The most striking feature is the murals turquoise sky. It would be easy to over interpret an abstract image like this, so lets not let that happen. It's a pretty picture, and one of a large body of such images. For two decades it's brightened the days of hurried students navigating the towering university library. Thanks Mrs Bailey.

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