Kent Anderson Butler redefines the idea of sacredness and highlights the pressures of life in his exhibit, “Tension Release,” Wednesday in the West Gallery.
The exhibit consists of a video series, two dye sublimation prints and a photo tapestry. Butler’s work discusses art history and the level of intimacy between the artist and viewer.
The videos in the series, “Sacred Encounters,” are centered around a daily ritual not typically performed in public. He said the work questions what constitutes the sacred.
“We’re so used to thinking of sacred as a sacred space, like a place of worship,” Butler said at the opening reception. “It can be a place in nature, or it can be something as mundane as a restroom.”
“Bathe,” the second video in the series, shows Butler screaming underneath a waterfall. The video is slowed down as he steps forward from the waterfall before he fades out of the shot.
“I liked the effects, how he appears there and disappears,” said Naomi Hall, junior art major at Azusa Pacific University. “The prolonged act makes it look more painful.”
Butler submerged parts of his body in water when he photographed “Drowning With Land Still In Sight” No. 1 and No. 2. He took close-up shots of his hand under water. Butler colored the prints blue and green to conjure the image of water unseen in the photograph.
“Sometimes in life we feel like we’re drowning, and land is near,” Butler said. “We can see it, but we can’t get to it. Part of the context of why there are the really cool blues and greens, it’s like I’m drowning in the water.”
Dion Johnson, director of art galleries, describes Butler’s work as inviting the audience to know his vulnerabilities. He said he enjoyed “Drowning With Land Still In Sight” No. 1 and No. 2 the most.
“His hand is in water, it makes me wonder what that feels like,” Johnson said. “When I look at something, I think ‘Is it cold? Is it wet?’ I like that a photograph can do that.”
“Avant-Kitsch” is a photo tapestry of Butler in a plaid shirt and black hat, posing with his arms crossed. The name is a portmanteau or combination of “avant-garde” and “kitsch.”
Butler photographed himself and sent the picture to a company. The company had the picture woven into a tapestry through a digital loom.
“When you think about a woven tapestry from a historical context, it always used to take place by hand, and there was something sacred about that,” Butler said. “It’s a commentary on how society has become in tune with technology.”
Butler said that the position he stands in is authoritative, which captures more attention from the viewer.
“The image itself, because it’s a portrait and it’s larger than life, is a commentary on the history of portraiture,” Butler said. “It’s larger than life, it demands a certain presence.”
The art exhibit will run through Nov. 30 in the West Gallery, located on the second floor of the Campus Center.
Aryn Plax can be reached at email@example.com.