A giant toothpick and a tapestry of tattooed skin currently line the halls where students wait to enter their classes in Hanes Art Center.
These works belong to a a team of seniors who are either interested in arts or are pursuing Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Arts. While highlighting 14 UNC senior artists, all pieces have the common theme of intersecting realms. From April 17 to May 13, everyone can view this multimedia display found in the John and June Alcott Gallery and the Hanes Hallway Gallery.
A few students gave their perspectives on the significance of the project.
"Intersecting Realms" is the overall title of the collection, meaning something unique to every artist. For Matthew Manchester, it represents the intersectionality of identity, specifically the duality of studying art and environmental studies.
“My biggest piece in the show is called the 'Cathedral of Summer Choir,' and it was inspired by time that I'd spent in the lab looking at insect wings under the microscope,” he said. “The inspiration came from looking at the insect wings, and I had noticed that they really look like the panels of stained glass that you would see in a cathedral.”
He said he was able to take his passion for science and the environment — which many people do not find traditionally beautiful — and turn it into art.
Manchester witnessed intersecting identities in the works of others as well, consisting of disability justice, gender inequality and general lived experiences.
Samuel Tsolis’ work featured pieces specifically meant to be touched and felt, which allows everyone, regardless of their ability, to experience his art.
He believes his works matches the project's theme through displaying the connections he's made at UNC. These connections reflected the things he has learned about himself and the surrounding world during his time at the University, especially accessibility in the world of art.
“I've kind of realized that (accessibility) is an issue, especially in the gallery setting. You go and then it says, ‘You can look, but don't touch,’ or you can just look around.” Tsolis said. “I feel like that's kind of presumptive to assume somebody's going to be able to experience it like that.”
His pieces consist of woodworking and ceramics, and two of them were made with the goal of being felt. Although he created his pieces specifically to be touched, he said it is ironic that the only time the public will have this opportunity is at the closing reception ceremony because the pieces are currently behind glass.
Through this intersection of advocacy and art, he said he hopes to start a refreshing conversation in the gallery space.
Dacia Perez-Medina, another featured artist, said that "Intersecting Realms" to her is all about the combination of multiple mediums being used in artwork, especially as her collection consists of both fabric pieces and paintings.
“I think that an example in my practice of intersecting realms would be just taking a lot of various making techniques and then just adopting them into your own practice,” she said. “Taking whatever feels right for you and using that to create something that represents your mental space or just your feelings at the time.”
Additionally, Perez-Medina said that "Intersecting Realms" represents the connection between all the artists in the display – as they all interact, challenge and inspire one another in their art.
With the focus of the exhibit on the work of graduating seniors, it serves as a physical representation of their time at UNC, Tsolis said. Perez-Medina agreed that it is exciting to share what the past four hard years have meant and all the effort that went into them.
“I think a lot of people take art for granted, they don't think about it a lot or they trivialize it a lot,” she said. “Sometimes, that can feel really invalidating. Especially when your identity as an artist is still being formulated, it can be really difficult to be proud of things that you're working on when other people don't see the hard work that you put in.”
Although the display is always open to the public, there will be a closing reception on May 13 at 3 p.m, where the artists will be present to discuss their work. As it is occurring the same weekend as UNC’s commencement ceremony, the featured seniors will be able to share their work with friends and family before saying a final goodbye to UNC’s campus.
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