The art show at UNC last Thursday was truly unique to say the least. The college featured two large scale exhibitions, ECHO by Dylan Gebbia-Richards and a permanent mural installation by Andrew Bablo and Pat Milbery. Both were full of color and design, an organized chaotic grouping of design and vibrancy that all colleges and institutions need more of. We focus so much on structure, linear views, and mathematical definitions of solid ideas down to the degree; but sometimes all you need for a little clarity is the complete lack of structure and to be fully surrounded by something you can't really explain. This allows the brain a break from the mental passageways we are used to so that we may focus on something that takes a different path to figure out (or not figure out, because art doesn't have to have a solid meaning).
Echo is a 30' x 20.5' three dimensional painting display on wave-like walls. Walking in you are completely encompassed in texture and color. The large scale installation is made of melted wax and is head to toe covered in original pigment. The meticulous process of putting together over four thousand pounds of wax and mixed media seems almost overwhelming. When entering the space I caught myself being in awe of the sheer amount of time this must have taken, and I was curious as to what could inspire this much effort. I imagine that it must be a thing of beauty to have something that intense inside of you, and the longing to express it no matter how long it takes.
Artist Dylan Gebbia-Richards graduated with a BFA in Painting and his BA in Art History at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2015. Besides showing in Denver and surrounding areas, he has also shown in other states like New York and Connecticut and most of his work consists of multi dimensional changing landscapes (changing in the way that they are to be walked around and experienced, not static structures). He has many processes and types of all encompassing 3-D art, but to find another way in which to bring out the vision in his head was to find another source of material that he could manipulate in order to properly define the expression he experiences through synesthesia.
Synesthesia is the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body. Basically when two senses cross paths and peculiar pairings of basic associations that otherwise would yield no relation to each other now have linkage, like color with sound, or color to numbers. The merging of these senses creates involuntary emotion and experiences that suddenly change the way you hear, see, and picture your world. Artist Gebbia-Richards says that this is the reason for his current work. Music can create such an immersive color-rich environment and he wanted to find a way for his visions to manifest.
For someone that also has synesthesia (I see colors with numbers), this is relatable and easy to comprehend. It's exactly what I hoped music could look like; and although it's no certain song or album, it makes complete sense and was definitely one of the most beautiful pieces of work I've ever seen.
Meanwhile in a nearby hall at UNC, the east coast/west coast collab between Andrew Bablo and Pat Milbery deepens the interactive night with a permanent mural that highlights the historical architectural form of the building via neo-contemporary designs reminiscent of 60's pop art. It greets you as you enter the Crabbe Hall's first floor lobby and takes you into it's space, engulfing you in vibrant energy. Looking up and around you notice that even the ceiling is painted; a trippy Sistine chapel.
This mural is definitely more defined and structured in it's essence, paying attention to walls and the space in which it lives. However to me this painting is also a bit defiant. The typical roles of 'hallway painting' do not have their place here as this mural almost seems to scream 'f*ck the man' and it's classic rules through vibrant hues and sharp juxtaposition of pattern. To the unsuspecting person this specific mural might seem out of place to the timeless hallway of graduating classes gone by, but to me this installation is like the crashing of the Beatles into 1960 - all or nothin baby! It's meant to shake up the status quo and remind you where you are: in the midst of your artistic education that currently blurs the lines and pushes your boundaries - and that's exactly what this mural does.
I appreciated the energy of everyone there. You can tell many young art students both in school and recently graduated were inspired and in awe at the pure amount of hue and vibrancy that came out of these humans and their expressions. I wasn't sure of what to expect but it was definitely mind-blowing (and worth the drive).
In the future I hope to see the ECHO exhibit in a solo environment allowing only one person in at a time to allow for a more immersive experience in color. If this somewhat 3D art show was meant to express the way that color comes out through music and other auditory senses, it would be more intense to enjoy this without any distortion from other people. I hope to see artists and students alike to pour through the halls and soak up these fresh fumes of art so that it may inspire them to take their visions to the next level.
The event also came with other sensory events like UNC alumnus Sean Nichols doing live screen-printing as well as a DJ playing us through the night. I'd say all in all with the snacks, free drinks, amazing visuals, and good company there was much learning and experiencing going on for the entirety of the event, and that's what art in it's core is all about.