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

Hampden Gallery showcases expressive artwork from two talented artists

Hampden Art Gallery displays two new art exhibitions
Caroline O’Connor
Collegian (2017)

Located in the heart of the University of Massachusetts’ Southwest Residential Area is one of the University’s most unique and remarkable destinations, Hampden Gallery. The gallery, which is an affiliated program of UMass Amherst’s Fine Arts Center, is known for its rich history of highlighting local and up-and-coming artists. The gallery showcases experimental and unconventional artwork from a large range of various artistic disciplines, touching upon thematically diverse subject matters.

On display at Hampden Gallery this semester are two exceptionally inspiring exhibitions by artists Cynthia Guild and Gonzalo Silva.

Guild’s exhibition, “FABRICATIONS and DREAMS,” comprises two series of oil paintings and drawings. These works collaborate to portray a thematic juxtaposition between logical orderliness. This is depicted through images of industrial mechanics, dream-like reverie and snowy scenes of nature.

Silva’s “Obsessive Compulsive Drawings” consists of a series of intricately detailed, maximalist drawings done in ballpoint pen on the back of 8.5×11 stationery. Silva captures the essence of musicality in his work. As the multitude of diverse images created by his pen flow effortlessly onto the page, an intricate interlinking of artistic ideas is created in a single work of art, similar to the technique of a musician capturing multiple motifs in a musical score.

Guild is a UMass Amherst alum and received her Master of Fine Arts in printmaking in 1989. Since then, her work has been on display in exhibitions across New England and she has received numerous awards for her artwork. Associate Gallery Director Sally Curcio has been following Guild’s career since the 1990s. Curcio was intrigued with how Guild’s paintings exhibit a juxtaposition between what Guild, herself, describes as “industrial mechanical imagery” with “dreamy alpine scenes.”

Guild now exercises her expertise in other mediums than printmaking, as oil painting and drawing are seen in her work in “Fabrications and Dreams.” The exhibition demonstrates Guild’s mastery in oil paint; her work is elegant and realistic, yet complex and abstract. She can depict contrasting thematic ideas while simultaneously maintaining visual and aesthetic consistency in her artwork. Curcio describes Guild as “an accomplished, seasoned artist who has spent years developing these significant bodies of work.”

Following the onset of COVID-19, the world was in a panic-stricken state of fear. Many people exhibited a fear of state surveillance and monitoring. Guild captures these expressions of fear and unease about surveillance in her work. The first series of paintings in “Fabrications and Dreams” illustrates industrial and mechanical imagery, such as metal towers and ocean rigs. Curcio explains that “her process involves extrapolating images from surveillance cameras and photographs,” to place the audience behind the lens of surveillance. The straight edges and cold, neutral colors of her paintings portray orderliness and rigidity, representing logic and rationale.

In contrast, Guild’s second series of paintings portray alpine landscapes of wintery forests and faraway mountaintops, creating dreamy ethereal images of nature. These scenes of nature are more abstract in comparison to the clean, rigid structures of the first series. Guild’s soft, large brushstrokes portray a poignant elegance that evokes a visceral reaction from onlookers.

“These two bodies of work represent two sides of my creativity: the driven aspects of thought and constructive action, and the elusive mysterious side — born of rest and reverie. I present them here together to see the results of their interactions,” Guild said.

In contrast to Guild’s semi-abstract, soft brushstroke style, Gonzalo Silva’s “Obsessive Compulsive Drawings” displays acute attention to detail through his meticulous mastery of the ballpoint pen. His artwork blends varying depictions of everyday life with the extraordinary. Silva lets his imagination carry him as he draws scenes that merge the imagery of humans, nature and architecture with historical and pop-culture influences. The result is chaotic, disorderly scenery. It possesses a fluidity and cohesiveness that miraculously manages to defy a sense of overwhelmingness.

Emigrating to Melrose, Mass. from Santiago, Chile, and now residing in New York City, Silva gravitated towards the arts since the age of 11, after begging his parents for an electric guitar. Today, Silva makes a living by busking full-time. He performs songs he has written on bass on the busy streets of Boston and New York City.

“Playing bass and drawing with black ballpoint ink are one in the same for me – two utilitarian mediums through which I channel my compulsive whims,” Silva said.

“He is self-taught and considers himself to be an outsider artist,” Curcio said.

Silva’s drawings are especially unique. Through ordinary materials, he can turn the simplistic into extravagance. Inspired by Silva’s use of everyday materials, the gallery includes a station for visitors to doodle to explore their artistic side and enjoy the wellness benefits of drawing.

“The goal of these exhibitions is to expose students to diverse artistic expressions and foster a deeper engagement with art,” Curcio said. Both artists foster their individual artistic skill set to display intensely rich and thought-provoking approaches to thematic exploration.

“Gonzalo Silva’s work highlights the accessibility and therapeutic potential of art, encouraging students to explore their creative impulses,” Curcio said. Conversely, “Cynthia Guild’s exhibition invites students to contemplate the complexities of human experience, from the anxieties of surveillance to the solace found in nature. Together, these exhibitions aim to inspire creativity, critical thinking and emotional reflection among students.”

Hampden Gallery offers students an accessible way to enjoy art and expose themselves to new artists. The gallery holds a unique immersive experience where students can enjoy free snacks, relax in the seating area, listen to music and even contribute songs to the gallery’s ongoing playlist while looking at the artwork.

Both exhibitions are on display through May 3. An artist reception will be held on Friday, April 5 where students can listen to the artists discuss their artwork. Guild will be presenting from 6 to 6:30 p.m., and Silva will follow from 6:30 to 7 p.m. In addition, Silva will perform original songs on bass guitar at the Fine Arts Center Art Walk Event in the Hampden Gallery Sculpture Garden on April 19 from 3 to 6 p.m.

Victoria Thompson can be reached at [email protected].

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