Contemporary art show focuses on social issues

Students enrolled in history of contemporary art displayed their art projects in several rooms in the Gunther Trade building April 12.

Courtney Davis, assistant professor of art history, organized the event with students from her art history course and her honors ethics and values course. About 30 students participated.

“So, it was basically [portraying] an ethical problem using creative medium,” said Khaliun Amarjargal, technology management junior and honors ethics and values student. “My problem, ever since coming here, I hate that we waste so much food when like half the population is starving. I couldn’t do [my painting] with food really because it’ s perishable, so I decided to use chopsticks.”

Amarjargal’ s painting is a re-creation of Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night using chopsticks as the canvas. She cut old chopsticks and glued them to a canvas in the appropriate shapes and painted Café Terrace at Night over them.

Each project was unique and focused on topics like unity, the Chinese zodiac and modern day slavery. The most jarring of the installations was a piece by Chandler James and Kirk Stevens titled You & Me. Their piece was jarring because it merges two different faces together.

They built a structure of mirrors that were cut into long narrow strips and inserted into wooden panels. There was about two to three inches of space left between the mirrors. Two participants would then sit on each side of the structure and face each other. The effect was jarring because it mixed participants’ features together, creating a whole new “person.”

“It ended up being a little more off-putting than we thought it would be, but also entertaining. …We are happy with the way it turned out,” said Stevens, digital media major. One of the other projects paid homage to refugees, while several others focused on memories and the artistic value of graffiti or “street art.”

“My project is mainly about creating dialogue on graffiti and street art and whether it is vandalism, destruction of property or if it’s actually art that we can look at, appreciate and not cover up,” said Michelle Rivas, sophomore in integrated studies with an emphasis in photography and business management.

Rivas traveled around Salt Lake and Provo photographing street art in the cities. She captured everything from beautiful murals to what some might consider standard graffiti. Sage Staples, elementary education sophomore, and Amanda Loader, art education freshman, created a visual project that showed how our economy is fueled by slave labor. They cut-up name brand clothing and pasted it to a board with the silhouette of a person in front of it. Then, participants took a survey from slaveryfootprint.org that shows how many slaves work for them based on their answers to questions like “how many shirts do you own” and “what’s on your plate.”

“The whole point of our project was to raise awareness of the slavery that’ s happening in third world countries for the benefit of Americans. When you walk into Walmart you don’ t think ‘ wow there’ s 35 slaves who worked for the food that I’ m buying right now.’ You think ‘oh, I’m getting a product,” said Staples. “It’s just to raise awareness so that when you are buying these products … you realize where it’s coming from so you’ re not buying 15 pairs of Converse anymore.”

Contemporary Art Show (UVU Review/ Julie Ostler)
Contemporary Art Show (UVU Review/ Julie Ostler)
Contemporary Art Show (UVU Review/ Julie Ostler)

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