It's always nice to see H-towners doing well, which makes "Perspectives 152: 4 Artists 4 Stories," the newest exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, especially gratifying. Each of the featured artists -- Michael Bise, Janaki Lennie, Darryl Lauster and Soody Sharifi -- received an MFA degree from the University of Houston. Since then, their works have been exhibited at national and international galleries and alternative art spaces.
The works, which vary in subject matter and materials, have at least one thing in common: They're all striking. Bise's graphite drawings on paper reconstruct his life's significant moments -- seeing his father's body at the morgue, dating an older woman when he was young. His use of skewed perspectives and points of view emphasize the psychological impact of each event.
Lennie's paintings point out the natural and artificial in Houston's cityscape, as lush green trees mingle with refineries and Pasadena-inspired chemical plants. Meanwhile, Lauster's sculptures are made from American Classical Revival and Federal-period furniture and porcelain, recast in white porcelain or fiberglass; the works are meant to comment on different time periods, and to highlight the craftsmanship that went into making them. Finally, Sharifi's photographs, some of which capture classic Persian imagery married with edgy, contemporary scenes, defy the classic perceptions of Iranian life in the West.
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CAMH curator Paola Morsiani wove works by these unique artists together with the idea that they share a theme: their examination of "contemporary psychological anxieties and cultural paradoxes." We say the theme is that UH puts out some damn good artists. Celebrate some of the university's finest in this show, which runs through September 10.
June 23-Sept. 10