Between Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio State and other area schools, the city always has a fresh influx of talent in the fine arts, but only so much gallery space to go around.
Last year, Ken Aschilman, a CCAD junior painting under the name Kenay Kash, tried to make his way onto the local exhibition scene, but didn't have much luck in the juried shows he entered. His frustration was shared by some friends and classmates, so they launched their own group show, securing a venue by taking advantage of a space in the schedule of a CCAD gallery that usually closes early for winter break.
Everything Explodes brings together 26 student artists around the theme of America's globally perceived propensity to blow things up. As Kash explained, the idea and title came from a screening of Inglourious Basterds and the trailers that ran beforehand.
"In every one there were these massive explosions," he said. "What was being portrayed of our culture was false."
Once Kash put it out there, the idea of a show around this notion appealed to a lot of young artists. Some contributed previously made pieces, but many created new works specific to the theme.
"I think a lot of people took the idea in their pieces to mean subversion of cultural norms," Kash explained. "We learn scripts of how we should act and how our art should be. Some follow that script until it's ridiculous."
A literal take on the first part of his explanation is seen in "Go F--- Yourself You Ugly Human Being," in which an artist identified only as Todd layers and furiously tears away at copies of Maxim.
Kash interprets the theme by presenting Osama bin Laden in finely engraved lines of U.S. currency portraits in "Manufacturing Consent." Stefan Hoza's two-panel work "Dungeon" takes a dank basement rec room and fills it with guys working on beers, a bong and a big missile adorned with the stars and stripes. It's the only thing in the scene that seems to be going somewhere.
On the ridiculous side, Erica Podwoiski's "See Emily Play" portrays a teen girl in a seductive pose with a pop culture-collage backdrop and a wild excess of color. The green tinge in her bright blond mane matches the logo on her Poison concert tee.
Standing sweetly apart from the others is an untitled wall assemblage of paper-filled silk scarves by Erin McKenna. The artist explained that the scarves belonged to her grandmother, and that at least one person had expressed a wish to rest their head against her work.
"Everything else in the show is exploding," McKenna said. "I wanted something comforting."