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Making connections through art Human interaction the focus of Student Union art exhibit

By Zarrin Ahmed
On February 18, 2014

  • The new art exhibit at the Student Union features the diverse work of 11 student artists on the theme of human interaction. Troy Caldiera/ The Daily Campus

The result of a new exhibit showcased at the Student Union Art Gallery was exactly what the name called for: Human Interactions.
At the opening reception of the exhibit on Tuesday evening, many gathered to take in the works created and displayed by UConn students. Filled with chatter, picture taking and food, the event cultivated human interaction and connection.
The new exhibit features the works of eleven artists who strive to make the intangible, tangible. It centers on the small and large interactions we make every day and tries to embody the spontaneity of these connections, and everything that they are subjected to.
Viewers gently treaded the floor strewn with black balloons, taking their time to fully understand the art displayed on all four walls and sculptures installed on the floor, which were illuminated by the warmth of blinking Christmas lights along the back wall. Even through the many conversations between those catching up after a long time and those that traveled to the show together, music from a playlist including The White Stripes and The Pixies played from a speaker system set up along a wall, near a table filled with sliced cheeses, crackers and dispensers filled with iced tea.
There was no awkwardness in standing closely with a stranger while taking the time to appreciate the works presented. The subject matter for each piece was such that every person could relate and interact with the piece as well as each other.
Some works focused on the presence and absence of people.
"I am always drawn to places that are void of human life," Ariel Maronich said in her abstract for her artwork. With pictures of an abandoned gas station, alleyway, and garage, she describes how it doesn't matter whether a person left the place ten minutes ago or ten years ago; their presence always leaves an imprint.
Marisa Lewon's works don the words "Are you awake," "I can't sleep," and "it's been a year and I am just starting to miss you." She described her art as "focusing on this idea of longing for things to be different, or not happen in the first place, or a way to erase time." She asked viewers to share with her any regret by writing it in a piece of paper, putting it in a balloon, and blowing it up- hence the black balloons all over the floor.
Marissa Stanton focused on reminders, familial memories, and grieving while creating her pieces based off the poem and painting titled "Finding Stephanie." She explained how there may be many little reminders to "take the trash out" and do other chores that are written in words, but it's things like the scent of perfumes that brings back memories of lost ones.
Artists Ashley Futo and Matthew Montana McIntosh chose scientific approaches to their subjects. Futo used mathematical concepts and transferred them to art forms while focusing on geometry and the degrees of curve and proportion in her sculpture. McIntosh's subject matter was that of streamlined technology in modern agriculture and the breakdown of Americanisms including the ideas of Manifest Destiny and the Old West. He focused on the relationships between humans and animals, especially the human characteristics of animals.
A number of others shared the theme of body appreciation. Rebecca Uliasz created photographs of her own hands clutching at her skin in a collection titled, "About Self." She wrote about exposing one's self by trying to have a voice and all the difficulties that present themselves when expressing yourself so intimately through art.
Chris Ortega, whose photography is in the exhibit, said his project began as a photography assignment that focused on light and paper. Inspired by the Slut Walk Movement, Ortega asked some female friends to write what they thought of themselves on a piece of paper, and then the names they have been called on a separate sheet. The pictures play with light, words and expressions in black and white. Ransom Waring said to his audience that, "remembering to be nice to yourself and respect your body can sometimes be hard but in the end it is worth it."
The exhibit is open until March 1 and located on the third floor of the Student Union.

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