Take me “Home”

By Marianne Kim

“Home” is a two week exhibition in the Student Union Art Gallery displaying artwork from University of Massachusetts and Five College students. According to the website, the exhibition addresses what, where and when home is. An exploration into peoples’ different roots, heritage and backgrounds fill the walls of the gallery and welcomes viewers into an artist’s interpretation of home.

The gallery strives for community involvement and every theme that is chosen is usually poignant for the time and the society depicted.

Kerry O’Grady, a senior and long-time staff member at the gallery, came up with the theme “Home” because spring is a time of many different celebrations for various cultures and groups such as Chinese New Year, Black History Month, and Women’s History Month.

O’Grady said she feels home should be open to experiential interpretation.

“Home invites many interpretations and broadens everyone’s experience,” She said.

The exhibit’s mission is to promote cultural multiplicity and address a diversity of perspectives.

In the back of the Student Union Art Gallery, there are three maps hung up. One is a map of Massachusetts; the next is of the United States, and the third, a map of the world. Tiny orange and pink pins are scattered about these maps. Many are concentrated in Massachusetts, while others go as far as California. There are some that go across the world, from Spain to Korea. These pins mark the places people consider home. Most people automatically assume their home is where they live, and press a pin onto their hometown. Upon entering the gallery, there hangs a blue towel with dainty flowers stitched into the terry cloth, and in front of the second entrance lays a welcome mat. These small touches were added by the Student Union Art Gallery staff, immediately setting the vibe by adding objects almost analogous to the idea of home.

The exhibition itself displays a diverse array of artwork in many different mediums. The pieces are carefully put together and convey each artist’s unique approach to the theme. A three-piece set done by Danielle Bryant, an art history major, bursts with bright colors of painted flowers which are pretty enough to be on a breezy spring dress. Every brush stroke adds texture to the delicate petals and leaves of the roses and cone flowers. Bryant’s vision was to paint the perfect garden for her future home.

A charcoal sketch titled, “France,” on the other hand, consists of no bright pops of color whatsoever. The sketch was made by Irene Ushomirsky, a psychology and art double major, who drew an image of a room with an open door, a window and a large table in the middle. Although the charcoal made the room dark, the light from the window warms up the room. Ushomirsky’s skill in shading and shadow drawing gives this room a feeling of familiarity and comfort like a dusty attic.

One piece was not created from the usual paintbrushes or pencils. Cory Gillis created a sculpture made entirely out of items he found on the beach. His work, titled “Peach Beach Tree,” consists of wood and twigs wrapped in string and twisted about in wire. Trapped within this wire web are small stones and seashells; fish bait and a little frog figurine peek out from the base of the sculpture. Gillis brings together these unconventional items in a way that channels his own ideas about home.

The work of Gineen Cooper took a literal approach to her identity. In her piece, “Identification Plan,” she works with mixed media on blueprint. On a sheet of blueprint, small square pictures surround and fill the paper, allowing the viewer to see a blueprint of Cooper’s life.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Gallery held an open call acoustics and reading session that took place March 3 in the Gallery. Brittni Reilly and Alanna Sennott, staff members at the Gallery, said they aim to hold at least two open mic sessions a month, and that the “Home” exhibition provided a great opportunity to combine artwork and poetry. Students got the chance to share their feelings and thoughts on the idea of “Home.” The show consisted of 15 students who performed unique pieces. Most of the readings were poems describing specific moments which reminded them of home.

Danielle Dickey read straight from the journal where she wrote her poems. One poem was about Bambi-themed scenery her mother and aunt painted on her wall when she was seven years old. The words flowed from her mouth and assembled themselves into rhythmic beats that roused the senses. Her words painted a picture of a young girl’s mind who sought endless entertainment and evoked a “Mother Goose” cassette player which told children’s stories. Her other poem fondly spoke of her father and his influence in shaping her into the individual she is today. She was “Daddy’s little girl,” who strived to be the best she could because of his support.

Isaac Himmelman was influenced by Def Jam poetry and spoken word. He read two poems with his voice driven by emotion as he became immersed in his words, letting his feelings guide him through the reading. Himmelman, who came to UMass all the way from Santa Monica, Calif., was a bit worried about deciding to attend this University without even visiting. For living so far away, Himmelman suggested that “to feel at home, you have to bring whatever portable pieces home you can carry around with you, like a song, for example.” Fortunately, feeling at home came easily for him because he managed to find his niche on campus with a close group of friends who shared common interests with him.

Jimmy Aulenti entertained the audience with an acoustic performance. Aulenti, also known as “J Entity,” skillfully and simultaneously played the guitar and harmonica to his song, “Take Me Home.” He could not have summed up the night better than by singing, “Take me home, where I belong. I can’t feel any closer than the place where I’m from.”

As this exhibition explores, “Home” means many different things to people. Yes, home can be that physical structure which places a roof over your head, but with a bit of reflection, it is so much more than that. Home is a feeling for some. They feel at home when love is present and for others it can be the comfort of a song. For many, home is a place. It is a place in their mind of fond memories and happiness. It can also be a place of hardship and pain. Whatever the interpretation, these ideas make us feel like home is never far away.

Marianne Kim can be reached at [email protected].