I recently learned of several small art movements that are relatively new to the list of isms" that make up art
history. Along with post-modernism and conceptual art we can add funism, thinkism and stuckism.
Funism proponents believe that art should be as much fun to look at as it is to think about and that art should be
intellectually engaging without being intellectually elitist. Thinkism claims to be the first art movement of the
21st century and suggests that art shed light on various social, philosophical, political, environmental, psychological and religious issues. Stuckism is an international art movement for contemporary figurative painting
with ideas. Proponents claim it's anti- the pretensions of conceptual art, and anti- the notion of anti-art (rooted
in Fluxus). One website claims there are 206 stuckist groups in 48 countries.
And what does this have to do with the senior art majors' exhibition at Fort Lewis College, you might be asking?
Well, as it turns out, just about everything.
In Durango, art students are not always exposed to the newest, most avant-garde work from the finest galleries and
museums in New York, London and around the world. They are likely not familiar with Ryan Trecartin, the
twenty-something art phenom from Philadelphia known for his disjointed videos or Cao Fei, the Beijing artist who
explores the rapid evolution of Chinese society and cultural trends through photography, video and new media. They
can identify the work of über artists Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami because well, frankly, those
images are everywhere - you've probably seen the giant shiny balloon puppies, diamond encrusted skulls and neon
flower and eyeball patterns, too.
Viewing the exhibit in the FLC gallery, I am reminded that there is a purity of purpose to the art these students
create, based in the traditional mediums of painting, sculpture, photography and design. One will not find a fine art
video or audio installation at FLC. (That may be problematic for students who want to pursue their MFAs, as new media
art is everywhere.) What one will find is strong, elemental and basic design skills from the graphic students who
show an eye for color, negative space and typesetting. I was particularly fond of the Prairie Thunder" music
festival posters by Ian Doig for their simplicity and powerful use of color to attract my attention. Deana King
produces something of a hybrid between graphic design and drawing in her white on black Velvet Acid Christ Posters"
a work that might qualify for the thinkism movement for its apocalyptic symbolism and imagery.
Drawing also stands out in this exhibit, particularly mark-making with charcoal and watercolor and graphite.
Traditional figurative works, like Growing" by Arline Yazzie Paul of two twin toddlers, show mastery of skill and
technique. Same with Cold Case" by Alan Miller, a close up of a face featuring intense turquoise eyes.
Shellie Douglass shows two nudes created by drawing on Mylar that is then exposed to sunlight to create solar plate
etchings. She also shows Libby" a charcoal drawing of a pre-teen girl bent at the waist looking sadly, angrily or
disinterestedly at the viewer, hands clasped between her knees. Douglass and Slater Bootenhoff share a collaborative
drawing that results in an image with tension between the figurative and the organic that may qualify as a stuckist
Bootenhoff's paintings were my favorite pieces from the show, though both are very different. Typical System
Schematic" is mixed media featuring layers of what might be drawing, sumi-e ink, printmaking, painting and etching in
rusty colors and black. His oil painting, Lift," employs a similar orange color with blue and white resulting in a
sophisticated work of abstraction.
In the category of funism, I would situate Araina Marsden's Tetris" sculpture, a wooden drawing of a doll playing
video games on TV, and Shannan Cruise's Literature Alive," a playful yet dark octopus-like creature emerging from a
stack of opened books.
So when it comes to the distinction between the latest art movements and what is happening in art programs like the
one at Fort Lewis, we see that the line is malleable, and a foundation in the basic elements of art making is likely
to stand the test of time.
Leanne Goebel is a freelance art critic, writer and journalist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.