Complete, beautiful chaos: New art exhibit dazzles in Student Union

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Morgan Wolfe, senior in mass communications, was grabbing a coffee at Radina’s Coffeehouse in the Student Union when a painting called “Elysium” drew her into the William T. Kemper Art Gallery.

“I usually don’t go to the gallery,” Wolfe said. “But that painting demanded attention.”

This piece and several others are part of the Inflorescence Art Exhibit, a collaboration between Allison Olsen and Jessie Burnes, seniors in fine arts. The exhibit is coordinated by the Union Program Council.

“I like bright, vibrant colors because they draw people in from the beginning,” Olsen said.

Burnes said Olsen contacted her first about an opportunity to display art in the Kemper Art Gallery.

“It’s a really lucky opportunity that just worked out,” Burnes said.

Olsen said she knew about their chance to display art in the Kemper Art Gallery because she works for UPC.

“I’m the lead arts installer,” Olsen said. “Basically that just means that I oversee the installations — and the de-installations — of the shows that go up in the William T. Kemper Art Gallery, and I facilitate scheduling by organizing the shows.”

Olsen and Burnes decided to show their work together due to their similarities in artistic style.

“I paint abstract,” Olsen said. “I used to call it abstract botanical, but it kind of went away from plants to more of just spaces and environments. My idea is I paint large scale, and then I invite the viewer in to look at my work and see it kind of overwhelming all around them. Then they can go in and look at the little spaces between everything, and seeing how the forms interact with each other.”

Burnes said she also started painting by taking inspiration from nature.

“I focus on aspects of nature I feel drawn to personally,” Burnes said.

Burnes said using a representational idea of a flower was a vehicle for her to play with rest and unrest coexisting in one place and how that works in the natural world.

“[The purpose is] to really notice the things you observe and are drawn to,” Burnes said.

Before leaving the exhibit, Wolfe left a comment in the guestbook.

“Complete, beautiful chaos,” Wolfe said. “I loved reading about these paintings as a process of ‘letting go.’ Seems like you handle the ups and downs of life by making beautiful things.”

Olsen and Burnes’ art exhibit will be open until Oct. 4. The next art exhibit in the Kemper Art Gallery will be a look at the Student Union over the years.

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