Aaron Schaffer / Photo Editor

The newest exhibit at the Hartnett Art Gallery is definitely not one to be missed. Christopher Troutman’s series titled “Watching: U.S. and Japan,” is impressive as well as thought-provoking. The black-and-white sketches created with charcoal, ink, and gesso paint depict scenes from both Japan and the United States side-by-side, giving the viewer a close look at everyday life in both countries.

Upon first entering the gallery, I was struck by the size of the sketches. Some of them depict people that are larger than life- size. It is quite easy to get lost in the world of the drawing because of the intimate details that Troutman uses. Every line and curve of each person’s face is extremely life-like; the viewer can understand the hardships the people sketched have endured because of the deep lines on their faces and circles under their eyes.

The angle from which Troutman views these scenes is very realistic; all of the people in the painting are in motion, simply going about their day. The sketches give us a quick snapshot into their busy lives. Some of the sketches include people sitting and drinking coffee or checking their mobile phones. This made it easy to picture oneself in the world of the drawings, simply passing these people on a busy street.

A favorite sketch was of an apartment building looking down at the balconies of the apartments below. This sketch, titled “Watching Neighbors,” is over six feet tall, and its subjects are life size. I loved the intricate details of this sketch that really bring it to life: the curve of the knuckles of the hands holding a blanket over the railing of the balcony, the details of the passerby on the street below, and the fact that none of the people in the sketch are looking directly at us. We can see these people exactly as Troutman saw them.

Another sketch that stood out was titled “Hillside View.” The sketch is of a young girl during a hot summer, lounging in a chair on a porch overlooking a hillside covered in houses. Troutman also sketched the foot of the viewer, making it even easier to imagine that we are in the scene.

Some of the sketches in the show are arranged in multiple panels. Most of the sketches on the side-by-side panels do not create one large image. They do, however, seem to complement each other, even though some are possibly sketches of both the United States and Japan.

One of the interesting things about Troutman is that he draws sketches from his own life experiences in both Japan and the United States. The show puts the sketches side-by-side and gives the viewer the opportunity to compare the two worlds. Apart from the signs in English and Japanese, it was sometimes hard to tell the difference between the two worlds. Both worlds included busy city streets and tall buildings. Both depicted young children and people going about their everyday lives.

It makes the viewer realize all of the similarities between two places we often see as vastly different. We are able to see that, in general, our lives are not so different.

This show is definitely one to check out; it does not take long to make it all the way through the gallery, and it is well worth the time. The sketches will be on display until Feb. 17.

Sanguinetti is a member of the class of 2015.



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