Coupling

COUPLING

Now in its third year, this annual event pairs young local artists with University of Washington art students to create collaborative artworks. As if the whole "Coupling" double-entendre wasn't bad enough, the theme of this year's show is "Closest Point of Union," a Victorian expression for gettin' it on. Whatever—the results of the show's creative mind-melds are fascinating, particularly because it's the students who tend to dominate (although you can usually see hints of influence from the mentors). Steve Carlton's Styrofoam block molded from inside a room echoes Leo Saul Berk's concern with interior spaces; Joan Swearingen's little light boxes made from plastic Kleenex holders are filled with mysterious substances (she worked with Timea Tihanyi, whose installations allude to bodily functions); and Ben Hirschkoff's projected video of dreamy nostalgia, titled Cumulex™ (pictured), has a quiet subtlety to it, much like partner Thom Heileson's photographs. Still, I think the artist to watch is Camille Slack, who, working with sculptor Dan Webb, has created the mixed media piece Broken Balloon Project. The "project" involves mending torn balloons and using an air compressor to keep them inflated despite constant leaks; that this project was conceived while Terri Schiavo was getting her life support removed seems significant. The accompanying collages offer a sort of blueprint of the reconstruction, and the whole work is a wry commentary on the beauty of doing something difficult and completely useless. Center on Contemporary Art, 410 Dexter Ave. N., $5 (suggested), 206-728-1980. Exhibit runs through May 11. 2-8 p.m. Tues.-Thurs.; noon-5 p.m. Fri.-Sun.

 
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