Photos by Chris Crews.
There is always a sense of serenity when walking towards the Student Union art gallery. The sound of someone playing the piano carries down the hall joined by people chatting, and this time, the distinctive smell of barbecue sauce. It’s a calming atmosphere, and it gives those who go a little distraction from life’s worries.
This theme continued with the art featured in the Sanskrit exhibition, which ran from March 6 through 24. There was an immediately obvious color scheme: blues, yellows, browns, which made it’s way around the room. There were flecks of green scattered on various pieces of art, but they worked together to create a cohesive entity.
These colors worked together to take the viewer to all types of places, from the mountains to the ocean, to people’s homes while showcasing the life found there. The gallery begins with the ocean: two realistic watercolor paintings of waves called “Air” and “Breeze” respectively by their creator, Elena Belova. It then moves past several paintings of people with mugs and then of one of a cat called “Whyme” by Sarah Kinney, all of which bring the feelings of morning. These bring us to two acrylic paintings by Thomasson Burgess, one of a mountain called “Majesty,” the other of what viewers collectively decided was a bear, called “399.” Both used yellow and blues à la Vincent van Gogh.
One of the fan favorites, however, was not a painting, but rather a series of wood sculptures by Madison Dunaway called “Frame of Reference #1,” ”Frame of Reference #2” and “Potentially Utilizable.” These sculptures changed with your angle. From one they looked like coral, from another a whale’s fluke, and because of their honeycomb-like shapes, they threw the fading sunlight around the room. “Potentially Utilizable” was, in this case, utilized as a wall decoration and a home to succulents.
There also seemed to be a childlike innocence to much of the art, particularly that of Caroline Kerrigan, who used everything from coffee to digital art to create pictures that could fit into any childrens’ book. “Evening Tea,” for example, shows a kindly witch reading her book in front of the fire, while “The Captain” depicts a pirate with a parrot on their shoulder, “Ella” looks like a princess from a Disney movie and “Persephone” is the visual storytelling of the Greek queen of the underworld. “The Fates” is another depiction of characters from Greek mythology. However, the generally dark colors and creepy imagery usually surrounding them have been replaced by pastel pinks and greens.
Despite the peace that appears on the surface level of the art, there is also the feeling of something dangerous lurking around the corner. Whether intentional or not, Belova’s “Air” appears to have a hand reaching out of the waves as if it wants to pull you down with it, and while looking at the bear in Burgess’ “399” there is a lingering realization that despite the warmness in its eyes, it’s still a wild animal easily capable of violence. And even the beautiful and fun images by Kerrigan remind that not every story has a happy ending.
These are, by far, not the only pieces of art featured in the gallery, nor were these necessarily the best; they were simply the ones that seemed to carry the general theme throughout. While the gallery may have closed, it was just the introduction for this year’s edition of UNC Charlotte’s annual Sanskrit literary-arts magazine, which features over 70 works submitted by students, teachers, community members and people from all over the world. The magazine is available for free on campus from now until next year when the journey begins again.