Students of Colorado Mesa University’s Department of Art and Design created 18 pieces to display at The Point in the University Center. The pieces exhibit the common characteristic of being “modern art,” with pop, street and graffiti styles to match a specific aesthetic. The show is called “Garage Mahal.”
Eli Marco Hall, an assistant professor in the art department, explained the idea for the show was drawn from artist Oliver Jeffers’ “disaster paintings.” The Illustration I class gathers already-existing paintings and uses an assigned set of supplies to alter the meaning.
“The goal is to change the narrative. I feel like it’s a really powerful lesson […] to be able to take what a painting is supposed to say and then re-envision what it says,” Hall said.
The class collaborates on the art and agrees on concepts, making the gallery a team effort. They also work with students at The Point to determine the style and mood they want to create within the space.
“These are supposed to be fun and lighthearted. They’re for entertainment purposes,” Hall said. “You walk in and you see that wall now; they’re doing what they’re supposed to do, getting people back in that space.”
Students use opaque watercolors, graphic pencils, Sharpies, and other very limited tools to illustrate their own designs on top of the “found paintings.” Their additions change the meaning of the scenes, such as adding an explosion from an atomic bomb to a depiction of a serene lake to create a more contemporary meaning. Because the paintings are created by college students, Hall says they appeal to a younger crowd and draw interest into The Point.
Hall teaches Illustration I once a year, choosing the best paintings from the class and swapping them out at the Point. This way, the show continuously rotates throughout the academic year to feature many different students and alter the environment at The Point.
The show adds a unique element to the student-focused atmosphere of The Point in addition to giving art students an opportunity for exposure.