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One for the Money, Two for the Show: A Review of NYU's SHOW TWO Exhibit

It was three months of hibernation that finally culminated with the arrival of spring. Not only can we finally walk through the pavement without encountering frozen sleet, it was a sign that new art was blooming around the city. This past Thursday, graduating seniors at New York University (NYU) exhibited their work at NYU’s Gulf + Western Gallery. While the show mainly spans throughout the first floor, the rest of the exhibit continues at the eighth floor, where the hallways are decorated with an abundance of photographs.

Named SHOW TWO, it is mainly an exhibit consisting of the student’s senior thesis. Whether it be photographs, multimedia or digital imaging, the works of each student is not afraid to delve into themes that have a personal angle. Topics range from exploring national identity, material consumption, race, drugs and questioning the construct of masculinity. Given its intense nature, you can tell that the artists explore these subjects to call us to question the world around us.

On the opening night, it was hard for me to get through the entire show. Throngs of students, parents, friends and teachers filled the room, leaving it hard for me to walk through the entire exhibition. However, it was easy for me to navigate as the majority of artwork hung on the wall. As much as I want to like the artwork, a lot of them appeared to be like carbon copies of the greats (e.g. Mary Ellen Mark) or clichés that I've seen in so many galleries.

Despite this, there were a few that actually stood out. One of the masterpieces that stood out to me was a student’s series of photographs about heroin addiction. Done in shades of black and white, his photographs reminded me of Mary Ellen Mark and Jim Goldberg’s starks portraits of homeless drug-addicted teens. While drug addiction was a topic that’s generally easy to dehumanize, his portraits painted a humanized view of people in recovery from their addiction.

Paul, Two Years Sober is one of my favorite photographs

For instance, take a good look at Claire Lee’s photographs. Lee photographed a packet of McDonald’s French Fries and had it lean against a red background with a shadow looming over. Unlike a realistic rendering of the shadow, it formed a shape of the object. Not only did the work boggle the eye, it made us want to reconsider our relationship on consumption as it encourages us to see the negative feelings of desire for material things.

Claire Lee's Inception of Desire featuring a McDonald's French fry carton

All in all, it was a show not to be missed.

NYU's SHOW TWO Exhibit

Gulf + Weastern Gallery 721 Broadway, 1st floor

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is free and open to the public.

from Thursday, March 23 - Saturday,April 22, 2017.

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