Exhibition highlights themes of mysticism, nostalgia

A crowd gathers in the Harris Gallery for the reception for the gallery’s new exhibit, “Signals.” The group exhibition features artists Nick Aguayo, Greg Ito, Dion Johnson, Helen Lindeberg, Christopher Nguyen, Annabel Osberg and Kristopher Raos. “Signals” will be on display until March 21. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook
A crowd gathers in the Harris Gallery for the reception for the gallery’s new exhibit, “Signals.” The group exhibition features artists Nick Aguayo, Greg Ito, Dion Johnson, Helen Lindeberg, Christopher Nguyen, Annabel Osberg and Kristopher Raos. “Signals” will be on display until March 21. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook

Thatiana Gibbs
Staff Writer

The “Signals” group exhibition show reception hosted by the Harris Art Gallery was held on Monday, giving viewers an opportunity to indulge in the fantastical. The exhibition is open through March 21.

The group exhibition features work from artists Nick Aguayo, Greg Ito, Dion Johnson, Helen Lindeberg, Christopher Nguyen, Annabel Osberg and Kristopher Raos.

The gallery’s mission is to make esteemed art accessible to students and the community while being located in the heart of the University of La Verne’s campus.

Themes of mysticism, distortion and nostalgia permeated throughout the show. The intention of the exhibition is to rouse participation, where attendants are encouraged to step out of themselves and into the art. 

With such scarce options to express ideas verbally, humans gravitate toward external vehicles to convey emotions, narratives or interests. Abstract art is characterized by unique and surreal qualities that prefer not to conform with perceptions.

Sophomore Dylan Sovine observes “Sunflowers, Constellations and Dark Matter” from 2023 by Christine Nguyen. The spray painted and ceramic piece stretches to the ceiling of the Harris Gallery as a part of the new series “Signals.” The collection is open to the public until March 21. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook
Sophomore Dylan Sovine observes “Sunflowers, Constellations and Dark Matter” from 2023 by Christine Nguyen. The spray painted and ceramic piece stretches to the ceiling of the Harris Gallery as a part of the new series “Signals.” The collection is open to the public until March 21. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook

The reception welcomed visitors as well as Director of Art Galleries and Distinguished Artist Dion Johnson. 

Johnson, director of art galleries at ULV and curator of the show, said the selection process for artists featured in the exhibition was personal, sometimes taking years. 

He said that relationships and admirations were fostered in the foremost stages and every participant was carefully selected. He also said participants alone have the potential to elevate an exhibition from just good to truly great.

“I was excited to come and see… this is from our community,” Catherine Su, sophomore accounting major said. “Abstract is interesting, a lot of it can be interpreted in different ways.”

Johnson said that while vessels of art come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, colors, materials, methods and media; the message and theme behind them can be the same. This sentiment aged well as guests agreed that the pieces suited each other during the exhibition reception.

“I appreciate this (exhibition) as it is,” Audrie Pagano, sophomore sociology and statistics major said. “I feel like the pieces are all so different; but cohesive somehow.”

As an artist, Johnson’s vibrant and involved piece titled “Mondo” was featured in the show extending 72 inches by 96 inches. 

“The work I included in the show was a response to other works because I think group exhibition is a conversation,” Johnson said. “I wanted the red painting that I put in to be a complimentary part of that conversation.”

The painting emulates a screen glitch with slices of bright blues, reds and whites packed together. The shapes included are smooth, in contrast to its commanding and strong presence.

Nguyen, a mixed media artist, opted for an immersive experience regarding her piece “Sunflowers, Constellations, and Dark Matter.” The display spanned from the ceiling and draped to the floor, where it was met with objects including sea shells, crystals and feathers. 

The actual paper covered in spray paint shows splotches of gold, pink, green, blue and yellow. Shadows of sunflowers emerged in black and white mimicking the appearance of an ink blot test.

“I would say nature and the sciences is an ongoing theme in my practice,” Nguyen said. “I’m always focusing on the macro and micro world, where looking into a microscope is very similar to looking into a telescope.”

The artist’s thoughts nurture an understanding of sonder, that in every ecosystem exists an intricate microcosm of the larger and complex world. This kind of existentialism is precisely what drives abstract art in the first place.

Thatiana Gibbs can be reached at thatiana.gibbs@laverne.edu.

Nick Aguayo’s acrylic piece “Of What” from 2019 and Dion Johnson’s newest acrylic two canvas painting, “Mondo” from 2023, are both on display at the Harris Gallery as a part of the group exhibition “Signals.” The two artists are featured amongst the multi-artist showcase that features contemporary paintings. The gallery is located on the University of La Verne campus and the exhibit runs through March 21. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook
Nick Aguayo’s acrylic piece “Of What” from 2019 and Dion Johnson’s newest acrylic two canvas painting, “Mondo” from 2023, are both on display at the Harris Gallery as a part of the group exhibition “Signals.” The two artists are featured amongst the multi-artist showcase that features contemporary paintings. The gallery is located on the University of La Verne campus and the exhibit runs through March 21. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook

Thatiana Gibbs is a junior journalism major with a concentration in print-online journalism and a staff writer for the Campus Times. Her enthusiasm lies in research, writing, and effectively delivering captivating information to the public eye.

Sheridan Lambrook, a senior journalism major with a concentration in visual journalism, is photography editor and a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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