Student artists see red

What does the color red mean? Is it a symbol of love, lust, danger, hate? This was the interpretative task undertaken by the students who submitted artwork to GW’s fine arts gallery, Smith Hall 102, and its most recent exhibition, “~700-635nm: A monochromatic exploration of red’s wavelength.”

The show’s title is the wavelength measurements of the color red, according to exhibit coordinator Sarah Allison, a first-year student in the University’s MFA program.

“We wanted to study red’s wavelength and create works based on that interpretation,” she said. “The idea is that we really just wanted to fill the entire space with color.”

Undergraduate and graduate students from GW and other local universities were invited to submit their artwork to the juried exhibition, and explore their own ideas about the color red and all it represents. Allison said artists considered questions such as, “What’s the dialogue of red?” and “What emotions are drawn out by the color red?” in creating their art.

Exhibiting artist Chanan Delivuk, who helped with outreach, publicity and hanging the show, said the exhibit “is not necessarily 100 percent about color.”

“I think you can interpret it however you’d like,” Delivuk said. “I think if you walk around, you’ll see a lot of different versions of how people feel, of what red means to them.”

Jacqueline Levine, another exhibiting artist, described the show as “highly experimental.”

“People really didn’t hold back when it came to interpreting the idea for the theme of the show,” she said.

Levine’s piece, a large painting of the word “fuck,” was inspired, she said, by erotic sex shops.

“I really wanted to be cheeky with the idea of what ‘fuck’ means,” she said. “Because ‘fuck’ can be so harsh, but at the same time it can be so gentle and it can also be very cheeky and fetish-y as well.”

The show was juried by Steven Pearson, a painter and associate professor at McDaniel College, and by Ibrahim Benoh, a painter and a professor at GW. Benoh said he and Pearson judged each piece on how the artist incorporated the theme, the work’s meaning and how each piece worked with the rest of the show.

“It wasn’t an issue of whether we like this piece or not, but how this piece can work for this exhibition,” he said, adding, “The color red has many meanings.”

The exhibition features approximately 15 pieces by both GW and American University students. First place, best of show, was awarded to GW student Batool Al-Shomrani for her installation of red lights in the gallery, which Allison said brightens the room and makes it “pop” to passersby. Second place was awarded to GW student Sarah Koss, and third place was awarded to GW MFA candidate Katherine Sifers.

Al-Shomrani wanted to create “a sensory experience of the color red” with her piece. Levine said of Al-Shomrani’s work, “The installation… helps to navigate the viewer through the end of the hallway and navigate around the rest of the exhibit.”

The exhibit will host a closing reception Jan. 14, from 5-7 p.m. There will be a variety of red food and drink, and master’s of fine arts candidate Evan Hume and his band The Vermilions will perform.

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