Football and its attendant institutions such as fraternities and sororities might, at first glance, appear to be the subject of Justin Schmitz new body of work on display at the Dodd Galleries. However, on further inspection, it is clear that a slightly different institution is under review: that of the teenager. In long almost scroll like frames Schmitz reveals crowds of teenagers at high school football games. In the audience, watching the game is where any number of heightened affectations can be played out, a type of proxy for the adult life looming in each figure’s future. “Adolescence and how it is visually manifested through angst and emotional tumult is one of my main preoccupations, ”Schmitz explains. “I’m drawn to a scene where those emotions can come to the surface.” Stilled in dramatic gestures of reverie or grief, the youths emit grandiosity in response to the spectacle of the game. Each tenor of glee or disappointment is registered fully, even emphasized by Schmitz’s camera. What emerges is a kind of bizarre theater of adolescence. Even more strange is the dramatic portrait of the Phi Delta Theta house, large and classically adorned alongside an image of a Stonehenge replica, originally built as an entrance to an Athens subdivision. It’s as if these structures, even institutions, are as reliable as the shifting feelings of a teen.
Katie Geha, Director of Dodd Galleries