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Artists explore our surroundings

Nubia Cardenas and Stephanie Fuentes attempt to decipher the meaning of the piece “Triangle Complex” by Samantha Fields, at the Harris Art Gallery reception for the group exhibit “It’s All Around You.” The show, featuring several Los Angeles-based artists whose work examines natural and synthetic elements of our environment, will run through March 9 in the Harris Art Gallery. / photo by Rafael Anguiano

Nubia Cardenas and Stephanie Fuentes attempt to decipher the meaning of the piece “Triangle Complex” by Samantha Fields, at the Harris Art Gallery reception for the group exhibit “It’s All Around You.” The show, featuring several Los Angeles-based artists whose work examines natural and synthetic elements of our environment, will run through March 9 in the Harris Art Gallery. / photo by Rafael Anguiano

Shannon Garcia
Staff Writer

The Harris Art Gallery kicked off spring semester with new work by Los Angeles-based artists and some of La Verne’s own professors on Tuesday night at the “It’s All Around You” exhibit.

The exhibit highlights the idea of recognizing and connecting with beauty all around us.
The art was showcased in a brightly lit room featuring paintings, photographs, and installations of images typically seen in the natural environment.

As viewers walk through the exhibit, they will see a bed of standing flowers of various shapes, sizes, and colors.

On the opposing wall, a small tree peeks out from the dance hall of floral on a giant canvas draped in warm violet paint.

This work is complemented by a neighboring piece. A miniature canvas covered with the trunk and leaves of a painted tree.

Additionally, there is a “hog wild” creature that hangs on the wall with four eyes.

a series of paintings and photographs of clouds, hills, and trees line the walls.

The exhibit takes viewers away from the busy noise of their environment and carries them into a realm of peacefulness and serenity.

Even Jared Pankin’s deafening creature, “Hog Wild,” evokes a sense of oneness within its environment.

The piece leave viewers with feelings of disdain and understanding. Many viewers claimed that the piece was creepy.

“We like things that we can recognize…and when we don’t, it makes us feel uncomfortable,” Fred Yaffe said.

But as viewers spend more time with “Hog Wild,” they begin to recognize bits and pieces of its makeup and begin to feel more secure looking at it.

“It has a push-pull effect,” said Dawn Arrowsmith, one of the artist at the exhibit.

“The more time you spend with it, like spending time with a person, the more things you see that you never saw before, like it’s soft, furry quality,” Arrowsmith said. “You start seeing individual personality and connecting with it in some way makes it beautiful.”

Artist Samantha Fields demonstrates this beauty within images most would pass over daily through capturing natural, earthy happenings on canvas with acrylic paint.

Fields guides the emotions of viewers by utilizing sensitive colors in each painting to reflect clouds in various instances.

One painting appears to capture the image of a burning hill whereas Fields used subtle, bold colors to create incredible heat within the piece.

A favorite of senior Stephanie Fuentes, the piece “really brings out the colors and makes me feel mesmerized that someone could see this, imagine it, and put it on paper. It looks so real,” she added.

Artist Devon Tsuno toys with the realistic look of natural images, like plants, by using a paper cut-out technique.

This gives the plants unnatural colors and pulls some in front of others.

This technique adds to the idea that these colors, though seeming unnatural, are all around the environment.

It just takes a moment to notice that they are there and like his pieces, one must uncover each layer to notice the beauty of each.

Photographer and ULV adjunct professor Anita Bunn explained that a goal for viewers observing the exhibit is to keep in mind how things shift over time.

“Everything seems still from far away” but when you “look up close you can see movement, it’s the act of noticing,” Bunn said.

Bunn demonstrates this act of noticing in her series of five photographs titled “Glendale.”
The photographs are taken from the same point in the sky, but the viewer moves from one to the next, they begin to see a break in the clouds where a jet-like object passed through, creating an illusion in the photos.

It only takes the act of noticing to appreciate and connect with all that is around us.

Shannon Garcia can be contacted at shannon.garcia@laverne.edu.

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