When Jack Vogel creates art, he wants to push the bar. So instead of mixing oils and watercolors, Vogel blends computer animation, videos and traditional art to create unique pieces that challenge customary artistic thinking.
“I sort of adhere to Jackson Pollock’s concept,” said Vogel, a full-time student at Bowie State. “I’m paraphrasing, but what he said was ‘I don’t understand why critics and art reviewers are tearing their hair out over the meaning of a vase of flowers. Why can’t it just be a pretty vase of flowers?’ More than anything I just want people to enjoy what they see.”
The 34-year-old Upper Marlboro resident’s artwork is on display in the Bowie State University Fine and Performing Arts gallery through the summer.
His art ranges from hand-drawn works to colored triangles attached to an electric mobile reflecting light onto the gallery wall. Some of his art is in motion with several videos on display, one of which that is projected onto a back wall. His work was supposed to come down on May 13, but gallery director Clayton Lang said he decided to keep the work up due to the Vogel’s unique approach.
Vogel said his work deals with light and illusion, and one piece comes to life when viewed through the lens of a tablet computer, which is provided at the display. The somewhat simple drawing of fish underwater is morphed by the tablet’s camera into a 3D-modeled underwater environment with fish, a shark and a humpback whale. Small speakers play the whale’s call as the painting shifts.
“My concentration is digital cinematography and time-based media, which is almost exclusively video work, but I’ve taken a lot of traditional art drawing, sculpting and etc. as electives,” Vogel said. “The two felt very disparate to me so I wanted to find a way to bridge the two halves of my art education.”
Vogel is part of the university’s Visual Communications and Digital Media Arts program, which encourages students to mix creative output with technology. The program is coordinated by Tewodross Melchishua, who said Vogel is a unique student who pushes the boundaries by allowing visitors to participate, if they wish, in his gallery.
“What is great about Jack’s project is that it is truly interactive,” Melchishua said. “You bring your smartphone and tablet and you are instantly a part of his show. It is bringing the people into the exhibition.”
Lang said Vogel is a student who aspires to do well in his classes, and he isn’t afraid to pass on his knowledge to the other students.
“I think that Jack is kind of on the cutting edge of the next big development in visual art,” Lang said. “He is a very exciting person to work with.”
Vogel said he didn’t envision himself as taking up a large portion of the university’s gallery. He initially came to the school to continue theater lessons and possibly make use of his vocal talents — Vogel attended Suitland High School’s music program and sings “Ave Maria” on one of his works.
But after arriving at the school, Vogel put a love for technology and computers — he enjoys Blizzard Entertainment’s computer games in his off time — to work in the VCDMA program, and he began to experiment with art and technology.
He said he hopes his work inspires others to realize art isn’t limited to painting or sketching.
“Maybe if they are inspired, [they] can come up with something of their own,” Vogel said.