Review: Reveal exhibit showcases artists’ identities

Union Gallery showcase a mix of the powerful and confusing

Student art on display at the Reveal exhibit.
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Photos of student art on display at the Reveal exhibit.
Photo: 
Photos of student art on display at the Reveal exhibit.
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When artists reveal what they think about themselves, interesting art comes out of it. 

Reveal, a juried exhibition at Union Gallery, features work from 13 student artists at Queen’s. The theme — Reveal — asks artists to “explore what influences or determines sense of self, and the socially and culturally constructed nature of identity.” 

The project also seeks to explore social constructs like gender, race, and religion, and how they affect one’s sense of self.  

When it comes to art, I admire works that are expressive and personal. June Barrage’s, ArtSci ’17,  two-part series entitled Uncovered was just that. 

The almost-abstract print installation and oil paintings explored the artist’s struggle to fit Islam into her life, a life that, as she put it, is lived “in a modern way that does not fit into the scope of Islam.” 

With broad strokes and a minimalist palette, both of Barrage’s works forced me to look for patterns to make sense of her work — but when I found them, her voice rang clear. 

While some pieces had a personal touch to them, others were politically charged. Karen Law’s, ArtSci ’20, Self Portrait as a Yellow Person “aims to represent the means by which [her] ongoing struggle with cultural identity is impacted by societal pressures on diasporic communities.” 

Given how often race, refugees and identity appear in my conversations, Law’s pointed statement about how these all affect her life resonated with me. Her reclaiming of the word “yellow” to describe East Asian people even as she was commenting on the stereotype was powerfully done. 

Her work was strikingly represented in her colour palette; her portrait was almost entirely made up of shades of yellow against a blue background. 

Other pieces I came across, I simply didn’t understand. Craig Berggold’s, PhD, 21st Century Dreaming Crisis was an overblown black and white print of stills of himself holding signs of the title of the piece. 

To someone like me who likes art but is often confused by it, the piece was interesting, but not a standout part of the exhibit.  

Despite its disparate artists, the show was cohesively brought together by its theme. There were a variety of pieces made using a variety of techniques and mediums and yet it all worked together. Part of it is the space — the Union Gallery is agorgeous venue.

But part of it was just how clearly the artists’ voices were expressed through their own art.  

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