Grad student exhibit explores fantasy and the imagination

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 at 8:38 PM
Grad student exhibit explores fantasy and the imagination by Amber Chisholm
Photos: Amber Chisholm

With examples of weaponry, odd shapes and an atmosphere that almost felt surreal, “The Fall of Cordalla: Dreamscapes of The Lost Empire” was a thesis show put on by Phil Ambrose. Presented from March 25-29 in Bates Gallery, the exhibition was named after an imagined city-state that Ambrose created during a “Dungeons and Dragons” game.

About to finish his master’s degree in fine arts, Ambrose filled his show with collage and imagery. He also explores the use of fantasy settings to manifest will into the universe, as said in his artist statement.

“It’s about fantasy and ritual objects, how people gain control in a world that seems very chaotic,” he states, adding that he notices people feel helpless due to external factors, religion and rituals.

In the front of the gallery, each visitor was, according to Ambrose, “encouraged to write their own interpretations of the objects, with the intent of merging them into a larger narrative.” To do this, he left out pieces of paper and writing utensils, encouraging visitors to “leave [him their] stories,” and “tell [him] of [their] adventures.”

The exhibit could be taken in through four sections, which, according to Ambrose’s artist statement, helps to break up the square gallery space and “act as a ceremonial dream space that helps the viewer focus on the objects in the hopes of sparking the imagination.”

He ultimately wanted people to be able to focus on a few objects at one time: “By constructing interactive objects, I allow the viewer to voice their internal desires through sound and movement to gain favor with universal forces. I dip into the ideas of ritual, religion and magic to explore contemporary concerns. Exploring these topics through a fantasy setting allows me to subvert the initial expectations of the viewer and hide their meanings within the sculptural form.”

One of his pieces, “Altar to the Drowned King,” involves an object that he saw in a dream, and he enjoyed the opportunity of bringing it to life.

Two of his favorite materials to work with are silver (because of how it moves and feels, as it’s responsive in a way that other metals are not) and cherry wood.

He spent a year and a half to two years working on this project, and it is “an effort to bring these ritual objects, oneiric (relating to the field of dreams) space and collaborative storytelling into one experience.”

The process, from project to presentation, has been nerve-wracking but worth it.

“You’re literally just putting every bit of yourself out there,” he said. 

Amber Chisholm |

Additional Photos:

Photos: Amber Chisholm
Tags: art gallery

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