Finalists Exhibition has lot to choose from

The winner of the Hudgens Prize, a competition open to Georgia artists, was Gyun Hur, who won $50,000 and a solo exhibition at the Jacqueline Casey Hudgens Center for the Arts in 2011. It must have been a tough choice. Evident in the “Finalists Exhibition,” the other finalists, Ruth Dusseault, Hope Hilton, Scott Ingram and Jiha Moon, also were deserving.

Hur brings together performance, installation, process-driven minimalism and her Korean heritage in a meditation on memory, culture and family ties. The striped floor piece, which she continues in paint up an adjacent wall, is based on her mother’s wedding quilt. Its colors are believed to drive away bad luck. She created it with the help of her parents, who share in the tedious labor of shredding and color-sorting artificial funeral flowers that function as pigment, and of laying it onto the floor. The labor devoted to creating such a fragile piece -- a puff of air or wayward foot could ruin it in an instant -- is a touching metaphor in itself.

Dusseault exhibits photographs from an investigation of the makeshift sets that mostly young males construct for war games, the latest of a long line of play, from cops and robbers to video-game battles. What started as an exploration of a culture of violence expanded into a respect for the creativity evident in these elaborate sets constructed of flotsam and found materials like a folk art environment. She fuses the two in a video that plays off a 1950s cartoon of futuristic super-hero Astro Boy and her own creative play with found objects.

Hilton, the only Georgia native of the group, mines her family history in her multi-faceted installation. One element concerns her discovery that her great-great grandparents' slave walked 60 miles to announce the birth of her great-grandmother. In an act that seemed part penance and part Richard Long, she replicated the walk and presents objects discovered along the way. Visitors can contemplate the rest of the works sitting on the porch she constructed of old wood in the gallery.

Ingram engages modernism as aesthetic and a metaphor for Western self-assurance in one of his best bodies of work. It’s based on the lowly cinder block, the module of construction in modern buildings, which he elevates to an icon by dint of architectural arrangements of his beautifully hand-crafted wood versions.

A large vertical wood-block print titled “Endless Column” is an ironic reference to Constantin Brancusi’s eponymous sculpture. Far from an endless column, the power of modern Western culture is on the wane, as implied in the ruined cinder blocks placed on pedestals, like Ozymandias artifacts.

Moon is a crackerjack painter, as these works on paper affirm. Like many immigrants, she makes art about the cultural fusion of homeland and adopted country. She is rare among them with a tone and outlook that are upbeat. Rather than stress dislocation, her paintings say, bring it on. Moon melds references to Roy Lichtenstein, Asian scrolls, Korean pop culture and abstract expressionism just as deftly as she segues from translucent inks to opaque impasto acrylic.

Catherine Fox is chief visual arts critic of


Finalists Exhibition

Through Feb. 19.10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Hudgens Center for the Arts, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Bldg. 300, Duluth. 770-623-6002.

The bottom line: not only showcases the fine work of the particular artists, who all contributed substantive and well-crafted mini-exhibits.