New exhibit at Stamp Gallery encourages thinking about suburban environments

By Danielle Kiefer

With what appears to be paper chains draped across the ceiling and takeout containers and plastic bags propped on a pedestal, (Sub)Urban — on display in Stamp Gallery through mid-December — is not what most people would think of as a typical art exhibit.

Amze Emmons’s piece, “Street Life Flatpack.”

“It’s very lighthearted and colorful, in contrast to a few of our previous exhibitions,” Stamp Gallery Coordinator Raino Isto said.

(Sub)Urban, which opened Oct. 25, was curated by adjunct art professor Matthew McLaughlin. The exhibit showcases art about urban and suburban environments, and features work by artists Amze Emmons, Yoonmi Nam, Benjamin Rogers, Nick Satinover, Christine Buckton Tillman and Sang-Mi Yoo. The exhibit will be on display through Dec. 16.

According to the press release, the artwork “explores our contemporary surroundings and the underlying psychology of our modern living environments” through “humor, satire and irony.”

“I see recurring subjects like inhabited space, domestic and urban landscape and human activity,” Satinover said. “I extrapolate that into themes or concerns of multiplicity, the overlooked and banal routine, and the residue of everyday living. I think my work addresses the labor component of the everyday life, the cycle of work and non-work, and tries to forecast caution.”

Many of the pieces represent or incorporate everyday objects and households. For example, Satinover’s piece, “A Pink Slip Fashioned Flag (for College Park)” is comprised of iterations of the words “work” and “worry,” in different colored blocks. 

Satinover’s piece, titled, ““A Pink Slip Fashioned Flag (for College Park)” reflects Albert Camus’s description of “the Absurd nature of existence,” Satinover said.

“It’s an immediately visually appealing art show, and one that, at the most basic level, one can have fun walking through, seeing work and a lot of different media,” Isto said. “It’s a show that you can have a wide variety of aesthetic, sensory experiences walking through.”

The artists that contributed their work to (Sub)Urban hope that the art will not only be aesthetically appealing, but will make visitors think and examine their own lives as well.

“With any exhibition, my hope is that there is an ongoing dialogue or conversation that the work begins,” Satinover said. “I think that the works in this show introduce some interesting ideas and questions to consider, and a viewer will hopefully turn those things over for a while.”

Stamp Gallery usually tries to feature art that makes people think about social and political context, Isto said. He said the artwork in (Sub)Urban made him think about his own upbringing and the way his generation grew up.

“Even though this show is a fun show, it is also about politics and psychology and how your urban environment is structured,” Isto said. “I hope that it makes people think a lot more clearly about issues related to urbanity, suburbanity and suburban context.”

Students at this university in particular can benefit from (Sub)Urban by learning about different types of media and being exposed to artists outside of their own communities, as the artists reside in different parts of the United States, Satinover said.

Isto also hopes that more students will visit Stamp Gallery and become aware that it is a resource with a variety of art on display.

“I’d like people to know that it exists, and that they can come and have an exciting interaction with art in this place,” Isto said.

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