Art as reality

Alexis Reynertson, a UAA graphic design major, is presenting her work in this month’s Campus Gallery exhibit. Hers is a series of foreboding cityscapes, mostly with an industrial edge.

“Red seems to give the feeling of the ominous,” she said.

Her art work originates from her roots in the south. From Tallahassee, Fla., Reynertson used to travel a lot between Florida and Texas where she couldn’t avoid noticing the smoke stacks of the Mississippi and the countryside littered with paper mills, their flames shooting up into the sky.

“Since moving to Alaska, I’ve also begun to include industrial buildings in this area, such as Ship Creek and things like that,” Reynertson said. “Being here has expanded my ideas, not to mention I have a really great teacher at the moment, Kat Tomka.”

Reynertson works in many mediums, a lot of her pieces have different types of paper in them. The piece “Mississippi Smoke Stacks” is a depiction of an industrial site but looks like some sort of frozen fire. She used magazine paper torn up and painted over with bright reds. She paints on wood as well, but her newer work is mostly oil on canvas.

“I needed to get out of Florida and go somewhere different,” she said. “And this is a very good university to go to as an art student because it’s more personal.”

Previously, Reynertson attended Florida State University. She worked on her painting there but didn’t found her niche.

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She said she wishes the artistic community here was bigger, in Florida people were more liberal and there was more press coverage of local art.

“We need to set up more patterns like First Friday, where people can get used to different galleries and keep coming back. We need to show the public more, so they have exposure to different types of artwork,” she said.

Reynertson also likes the nature here and the contrasts between different places. She worked at a natural food store in Florida and learned about how much we as a society waste trees.

“In Germany,” she said. “They don’t even give bags out in the grocery store; you have to find your own means of getting your purchases home.”

Her art statements are about these things she’s witnessed in her travels. She wants to shock people into seeing these industrial waste sites for what they really are, a foreboding mess and a destructive force on our planet.

Once Reynertson graduates with her BFA, she plans on working for a graphic design company specializing in product design on the Web.

“If I could, I would get a double major,” she said. “Painting is something that will always be a second career.”

Mic Marusek’s work can also be seen at the gallery in conjunction with Reynerston’s work.

She uses a lot of maps in the series she did for this month’s gallery show. There are highlighted trail routes, photos and drawings of people and homes.

“I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio. I’ve lived in California, studied in Europe, I’ve been all over,” she said. She even rode a bike clear across America. “It’s been great, but I never really find myself closely associating with any place. I don’t quite know what it feels like to be a community member in the full sense of the term.”

Marusek is a traveler at heart and this is reflected in her pieces. Because of her skill at painting and consideration of career choices, she’s beginning to wonder if it’s time to settle in one place for a while.

She is interested in the relationships that people have with the places they are living and how they define that land whether it be mountains or flight noise, laws or taxes or mineral rights. She says she’s never really attached herself to it and maybe it’s time. However, the move to grad school, the next step in her development, will probably send her off on a new route again.

Marusek and Reynertson met in the studio, not in a class. They just happened to be working, quite often at the same time.

“You get a feeling about a body of art work that you see and you either understand the vision or you don’t,” Marusek said of Reynertson’s art. “I understood her vision, so I asked her to apply for a show with me. I was quite honored that she accepted.”

It’s eerie how well their pieces work together. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish which piece was done by whom when viewing the show. They’re definitely on to something in the way of world statements and expression. The show is haunting, making you think about world perceptions, land and how we treat it.