ANDERSON, Ind. — Cultural commentary comes through loud and clear in a pair of exhibitions that just opened in the Jessie C. Wilson Galleries on the Anderson University campus. Be prepared for thought-provoking works by emerging artist Brian McGrady alongside established Chicago-based artist Michael Dinges. The shows run through Dec. 19.
The provocative art of graduating senior Brian McGrady asks us to consider the costs of war in his current show, “War of One.” McGrady, 24, hails from Ford City, Pa. War is the thread woven through all the works.
“The pieces explore the effects of war on an individual mentally and physically,” McGrady said. He comes to the subject from a personal perspective, with a lot of family and friends who have been affected through military service. Post traumatic stress disorder is an important topic for McGrady that finds expression in his work.
McGrady’s exhibit invites one into the room with a large collection of uniform, but separately unique, ceramic pumpkins. In the context of McGrady’s theme, it is easy to visualize the military-like formation.
McGrady’s “War Pots” include classical Roman vessel forms with military imagery stenciled on them. The artist reflected on the personal nature of the works, recalling relatives who received medals and letters honoring their military service.
“It’s one of those things I feel we have problems helping the veterans. Sometimes they need more than a letter or a medal thanking them for their service.”
McGrady’s wood block prints are equally provocative. The black and white peace helmets of “A Memorial” form the shape of a cross. His “BANG” two-color prints pop with color, motion and energy among the other more muted works.
McGrady plans to return to Pennsylvania after graduating. He is thinking of pursuing a master’s degree in ceramics there, possibly ultimately teaching while continuing to make art.