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Culture Shock

MFA Spring Thesis Show: March 25-29

Stop by the Grunwald Art Gallery between 6 and 8 p.m. this Friday, March 29, for the opening reception of the first BFA senior thesis show of the season! This multi-media show will be open for viewing from March 25 to the 29.

I spoke with Zach Koch, whose selection of 16 oil paintings (which he made within the past year) is a large part of the show. I asked him if he could tell me a little about what he has displayed, and why he chose the subject matter he did. Here’s his answer:

“As far as conceptual subject matter goes, I think it mostly centers around feelings of inadequacy, anxiousness, and frustration. So most of the images that I appropriate into my paintings are linked to those kinds of feelings, whether it's a film still of a joyful looking anime girl or an old-master style portrait of a wealthy woman - the important thing for me is that they're representations of a strong female presence without being specific about a particular person. I've stated before that all of my paintings allude to some autobiographical narrative in one way or another - these include but aren't limited to my first boy/girl pool party, love triangles, and bar fights. I wouldn't want to paint literal scenes from stories; that would feel too exposing. If nothing else, I just hope they're at least somewhat interesting to look at.”

His work is, indeed, interesting to look at, and in the best way possible. The chosen subject matter and emotional symbolism is a relatable topic to many of us, and Koch does it in a particularly beautiful way. Not all of us, of course, know much at all about “the anime girl” or various other comic-book-type imagery present within the works, but we all know that they represent a certain part of us; perhaps this is the childlike vulnerability we all still have somewhat?

Painted in a basically flawless manner, Koch’s technique is impressive. He said that he’s been making art his entire life, but began to focus fully on painting around 10 years ago.

Zach on what drew him to painting:
“The main appeal I have for painting is the immortality that can be achieved through making art. It's something tangible that lives on after an artists' death. It's a completely silly comparison, but I think of each of my paintings like Lord Voldemort's horcruxes in the Harry Potter universe. They're special items that contain a piece of myself in each of them.”

Not a silly comparison at all—for many artists, this is the case. Fortunately, however, I doubt this artist is quite as devious as Voldemort. I think Koch’s “horcruxes” are most likely ones that will be shared and appreciated by art appreciators for a very long time.

Here’s his website:

The other artists being shown are Devin Balara (sculpture), You Zhang (graphic design), Kyleigh Garman (metalsmithing and jewelry design), Natasha Holmes (photography), and Nathan Foxton (painting).


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