Art is one of the best ways to deal with hard issues facing us all. One exhibit in South Santiam Hall recently tried to do just that.
The exhibit, entitled “Kapakahi”, showed the work of three Linn-Benton Community College students, James-Harley Parr, Michael Bosch, and Elizabeth Gleason.
Kapakahi is a Hawaiian word for something that is one sided, crooked or messed up.
Their work was focused on exploring gender and sexuality.
Anne Magratten, the faculty advisor of the LBCC galleries for the past two years, called the works “profound”.
“I have been in the gallery multiple times, and everytime I look at the work that’s up it makes me ask really important questions about contemporary issues of gender and the different cultures we have that surround sexual violence.” Magratten said. “The show runs a spectrum of genderless or gender-neutral and also explores stereotypes of masculinity and femininity.”
James-Harley Parr, a first-year art student, had his work displayed in the gallery.
“[My work] is currently in it’s beginning stages. I am experimenting a lot with different medias and different topics, mostly controversial topics.” Parr said.
Parr’s work focuses mostly on exploring gender.
“I’m often times asked what gender my pieces are, and I’m just like ‘I dunno’. I’m not really interested in drawing specific genders.”
Parr also doesn’t expect his artwork to be relatable to most people.
“I don’t think you need to relate to it all all, you can just look at it and appreciate the fact there are people out there who prefer to not be in society’s box that is gender, I think that if you feel something about it, it’s really go, but if you don’t, it’s okay. Not everyone relates to the gender spectrum,” he said.
Parr also likes using art to tackle controversial issues.
“I feel as though art is a great way to bring up those topics and make them a little bit of an easier introduction to those controversial or harsh topics.” he said.
Elizabeth Gleason, a second-year art student, also had her work displayed in the gallery.
“It’s a bit of a reflection of a lot of different kinds of femininity in a way.” Gleason said. “I really like to comment on my feminine side and a lot of emotions that I feel. It doesn’t have to be about being a woman, but sort of questioning the feelings that come with it. It’s a very personal reflection, and some of the pieces are ways that I’ve dealt with feelings.”
Gleason made her first foray into collage work during a figure drawing class.
“I was inspired by some scraps and magazines I’ve collected. I’ve always liked scrapbooking when I was younger and I sort of took advantage and just went with that.” Gleason said. “I ended up kinda going in a different direction, I really wanted to express emotion using paper, which I’ve never really done before, and kind of being able to address feelings and emotions.”
Gleason also spoke on what inspires her.
“A lot of my inspiration comes from trying to identify myself as a woman, what kind of a woman I am and not feeling like I fit into this stereotype as a woman and it’s really hard for me feeling like I need to be this kind of feminine and a lot of the pieces question femininity as a whole and not feeling like I fit into that idea and wanting to really embrace sides of me that feel more masculine.”
One of the common themes in her work is destruction.
“What I really like about doing collage work is that I get to destroy something… It’s more about the destruction of something to create something new, and it’s completely different from what it was.” Gleason said.
Michael Bosch, a second-year art student, is another student that had their work displayed at the gallery.
“The work I currently have in the show is really content driven. Very conceptual in it’s foundation.” Bosch said. “I’m not trying to do hyper-realistic. If it got too hyper-realistic I think I’d have people trying to pay more attention to the reflections on my windows and the grain and the texture, when I just want them to go straight to content.
Bosch has various works in the exhibit, including three paintings entitled “Frat House”.
“Just hearing about the amount of sexual assault and rape that goes on in there and I felt I needed to do something. I feel often the presence of alcohol gets blamed and I don’t think it’s to blame, I think it’s a while male thing, and as a white male I have the authority to step up and say something. I thought that there was an injustice going and I had a responsibility to insert myself into it.” Bosch said.
“When something wrong happens it’s wrong no matter how many people are participating.”
Bosch also did a political artwork. A group of basketball jerseys with the names of political parties written on them.
“The goal of those are to emphasize the hierarchy in our political structure” Bosch said ”just how people can be really tribal and act like fans when it comes to politics rather than it being issue driven.”
Magratten is proud of the exhibitors for presenting their work. “I am so incredibly proud of the work that they made because I think all of them took big creative risks and it takes a lot to lay yourself out on the line like that as an artist and a creator. All of them did a wonderful job. It’s one of those moments where I’m just like ‘Wow this makes my job easy because people are willing to really put that effort into their art practice.’” she said.