By Shelby Otto
The Student Union Gallery in the McFarland Student Union Building hosted its opening reception for its latest exhibition “Treason Flowers” Tuesday, Nov. 6th.
Among one of the most dynamic aspects of the new show is the title itself. The juxtaposition of “treason” and “flowers” brings together two different aspects of both modern art and art history which professor and curator, Mark Mahosky, further elaborated on.
“What artists are turning to a little bit more [during political upheaval] is the optimism of nature…and it’s treason because we don’t like the current political events. On the other hand, we are not necessarily enamored with the current artworld either.”
Both the title and purpose of the show become parallel when thinking about the loss of aesthetic quality in the artworld, being that so much of contemporary art is politically charged. “The aesthetics that we were trained with [are] being ignored,” stated Mahosky. This show then aims to address the political situation of the United States currently while also recognizing the loss of aesthetic ideals in the modern art world.
The inside background contained in the exhibition title contrasts sharply with the artworks themselves. No two works are similar in style, perspective or composition. While there are more traditional aesthetic works like Linda Aragon’s “Summer’s Dance,” there are more contemporarily focused pieces like Ariana Casado’s “Big Booty Judy.”
“I had to stay true to what I like to paint,” stated Casado. Casado’s work fits in with the theme of “Treason Flowers” differently than most of the other works because her flowers are concentrated in the figures’ bathing suits. While she engages with the aesthetic qualities being emphasized in the exhibition, she also epitomizes an artist’s ideal which is to create the things they gravitate toward (in Casado’s case, Instagram).
“Treason Flowers” serves as an active agent in the KU arts community and the KU community as a whole. Though the opening of the politically-agitated show fell on the same day as election day, it was only a happy coincidence. Because so much of television and social media are driven to follow the political storm in the country today, “Treason Flowers” works to address these dilemmas while retaining the aestheticism and beauty of artistic design.
“We want to make something beautiful instead,” Mahosky said. Visitors to the gallery may appreciate the visually apolitical work of “Treason Flowers” until Nov. 18, when the show will be taken down.