Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Student Union Art Gallery showcases some of the brightest art in the area

Gallery open until March 28
(Student Union Art Gallery/ Facebook)

The silly and strange world of the Pioneer Valley is home to a treasure trove. Some of the brightest artistic minds this side of the 413 make their residence here. When roughly 40,000 18-22 year olds are corralled together under the whimsical, chilly umbrella that is the Five College Consortium, it’s absolutely bonkers to think an undergrad — your roommate, your RA, the fella who cut you in line at the Grab N’ Go — could be our very own 21st century Masshole Matisse!

Well, perhaps I’m being a touch hyperbolic here, but it doesn’t negate the irrefutable fact that we live among some fine artists around here, and there are plenty of impressive venues that pay host to their work.

One such outlet is the Student Union Art Gallery’s annual Pop Show. For the fourth consecutive year, this exhibit has played host to some of the finest art in the area. One of the recurring problems of the “art world” is a lack of accessibility that ferments a tedious air of insularity and stagnation. This year, for the first time, curators have sought to rectify this problem by opening the doors to students across the Five Colleges. Instead of having the work of individual students selected, it was determined that the installations would be on a volunteer basis. How appropriate, for in many ways, we do not find art, the art finds us.

And boy howdy, the art sure did find me yesterday during the gallery’s reception.

The work displayed derived from a number of artistic mediums including sculpture, video, paintings, prints, fiber art and audio book art.  There was even a performance by a magician!

“Home” is the thread that weaves all of these individual pieces together. “We didn’t ask for submissions with a specific theme,” said Celia Jailer, one of the exhibition’s curators. “We had open call and looked for themes to naturally emerge through work that students were proud of, and the themes that kept coming were themes like home and time and self and place and the self within the place.”

The beauty of the art gallery is that it’s entirely student-run.

For some of the pieces, the connection is clear. Haley McDevitt’s painting depicts a still kitchen that looks like it’s trying to maintain a sense of calm just after a storm blew threw it. Every appliance is on and everything about the space is wrong, as much as it tries to maintain illusion  of serenity.

When asked what “home” personally meant to her, McDevitt, a senior studying for a BFA in studio arts, said that the images that come to her are that of those cold, sparse memories of a room late at night.

“This is coming from a feeling of being in one’s home space, which should be environment where one feels secure, and the weird sense of unease that arises when one doesn’t necessarily feel safe in the home,” McDevitt answered. “You feel both uncomfortable and you’re trying to make sense of it when there’s so much ominous pressure forced on you.”

But the definition of home is not limited to a physical space. Vishal Arvindam, a linguistics and psychology major, is interested in the sensations associated with home rather than the physical attributes of the home itself. In the center of the gallery, a pair of headphones are suspended from the ceiling, emitting a particularly lush yet discordant music composition composed by Arvindam himself.

“I made this piece when my grandpa died, which inspired a lot of nostalgia within me about the people I grew up with and what home means to me” said Arvindam. “It captures the feeling of security that music provides you, and how distinct memories are associated with those memories.”

One of the most eye-popping pieces was one crafted by True Markham, a Division III — Hampshire College’s rough equivalent to a senior — student who studies painting. The painting is a truly orgiastic display of colors and objects enmeshed and exploding and unfolding on top of each in a beautiful cacophony.

These brief snippets provide only a taste of what is currently showcased at the Student Union Art Gallery. The gallery will be open until March 29.

Nate Taskin can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @nate_taskin.

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    madMar 23, 2018 at 9:51 am

    great piece, great show, my favorite one yet! good job suag