Turning Garbage into Gold: SCCC Hosts Innovative Exhibit at Rosetta Hunter Art Gallery

By: Alia Marsha

Stand outside of the M. Rosetta Hunter Art Gallery and one will immediately notice the new exhibition titled: NEW MYSTICS: Distillations, Crystallizations, and Essential Forms. This exhibition is unlike anything that has ever been featured in this gallery before.

Using life-sized murals of hooded, masked figures, mountains of cardboard boxes, and bleak landscape photographs shining with intense lighting, this exhibition demands your attention. At the exhibition’s opening reception last Thursday, a few people left the gallery looking dazed while experimental background music played.

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Mystics: The Body Politic No Touching Ground, digital print, 20”x180” 2014.

Distillations, Crystallizations, and Essential Forms does not display finished art pieces. Rather, these artists tried to conjure a transient mentality of fluidity and reformation with their pieces. “[The show is] both a commentary on presenting art and how it gets made,” said NKO, one of the art directors, via email. Inspiration came from alchemical processes—essentially the act of turning garbage into gold.

“The SCCC show is a glimpse into the alchemist’s lab”, said NKO, “…where everything is in flux, and nothing is what it seems.”

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Distillations, NKO, dimensions variable, 2014 (the boxes & ink jugs, fire extinguisher etc),
Funeral Urn, Bald Man Watching, formed cardboard, 16”x16”x63” 2014, and
Unit Cell, Aubrey Birdwell, cintra, dimensions variable, 2014.

“What we’re working towards in the show, in individual practices [and] collective practices, is to refine the objects that we make and move forward to more unified truths about these things; what they are and what they express,” said NKO.

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Water Series I, Dan Hawkins, photographic prints, 7″x9″.

For example, artist Dan Hawkins created a series of site specific photographic prints which feature film photographs that were developed using water from the place in the photo. Not only, then, do the photographs capture the image of the location, but also, the physicality of the site itself.

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What They Do Well I, II, & III, Judson Felder, framed inkjet photo prints, 11”x14”, 2014.

Two New Mystics artists Audrey Birdwell and Judson Felder (both SCCC alumni) are immensely motivated by the conflicting creations of the material world and the metaphysics, and enjoy exploring the relationship between the seen and the unseen— the fixed and the ephemeral. These local artists work collectively with diverse mediums to express their art all the way from screen printing, to graffiti, photography, to music production and even dance.

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The scene during the opening reception on Thursday, 9 January 2014.

Distillations, Crystallizations, and Essential Forms invites people to question what art is and how art functions. If there is one take away from this exhibit, it’s that art is not always bound by an aura of permanence. As New Mystics has demonstrated, art can also be something that is always in flux.

Distillations, Crystallizations, and Essential Forms runs through January 30, 2014 at the M. Rosetta Hunter Art Gallery, Seattle Central Community College.

Follow managing editor Alia Marsha on Twitter: @aliamarsha96

Photos by: Alia Marsha

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