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Exploring [cult]ure in Smith Gallery

Three dimensional pieces by Amy Flores ’15 on display in Smith Gallery. Photo by Rae Kuhlman


Three dimensional pieces by Amy Flores ’15 on display in Smith Gallery. Photo by Rae Kuhlman
Three dimensional pieces by Amy Flores ’15 on display in Smith Gallery. Photo by Rae Kuhlman

Every art piece Amy Flores ’15 creates is a part of her narrative that transcends physical boundaries. This narrative comes to life on the bare walls of the Smith Gallery, which Flores has transformed into the newest colorful show, “[Cult]ure.”

Flores, a Bolivian-American artist, attributes the title of the show to the way she sees “culture” in her life.

“How I approach it is cult-like. A lot of my work comes from trying to create my own culture, my own American dream and this exhibit is like my American dream. Making art is such a privilege, especially coming from a working-class family,” Flores said.

Flores saw the transformative and cathartic potential in art after dropping her mathematics major. She struggled to come to terms with being a studio art major and realized she needed to change some things in her life in order to be happy.

“Every time I go home, I still tell [my extended family] I’m a math major. Fortunately, my parents have accepted it,” Flores said.

The show is an assortment of 26 prints, paintings and drawings with one letter of the alphabet attached to each art piece. The two blue walls feature black-and-white drawings while the bare, white walls serve as a background for more colorful pieces. Flores’ main medium is drawing.

“I don’t expect certain people to walk in to the show. There is so little overlap with students in Bucksbaum and other students on campus. I can’t understand how some people can’t walk in for a minute when it’s right next to the Dining Hall,” Flores said.

Her plan is to catch people’s eyes with the blue background on one of the walls and the torn dress, which hangs from the middle of the ceiling.

“[The dress] is torn and stretched. On the front it says, ‘I love USA,’ and on the back it says, ‘I want to.’ And that’s more like feeling torn,” Flores said.

In spite of the lack of color in her artwork, Flores said there is a consistent narrative for herself throughout the pieces.

“A lot of them are women or gender-ambiguous, beautiful figures, or beautifully-detailed figures. I like eyes. But I do feel like the art I do isn’t so much a narrative to other people as much as it is for myself. The paintings, however, are definitely more political. The narrative of ‘illegal aliens’ inspired the aliens [piece] and the quote is by a patrol agent in a book I read. But I feel like I can’t do political art if I don’t understand myself first,” Flores said.

Flores said she feels inspired by indigenous Bolivian artist Roberto Mamami Mamami.

“He does very vibrant colors. It makes people see the beauty of Bolivia. His work has really highlighted the beauty of indigenous folk and the country, so I try to do too,” Flores said. “I’m not so comfortable with color yet, but I definitely take inspiration from him.”

Overall, Flores hopes to send a distinct message to the gallery’s audience, especially non-artists.

“For non-artists, I would like them to see the rigor and the skill and that they’re like, ‘Whoa! People actually work really hard to do this,’ and understand that it takes a lot of planning. Mainly, I just want to create a beautiful atmosphere,” Flores said.

In spite of a beautifully created and curated show, Flores does not expect to become a full-time, professional artist in the future.

“As the first person to go to college, making money, supporting my family, it’s a very important part of why I’m here, why I’m pushing myself hard, so art is an unrealistic way to go about at least the next couple years. But I can’t stop doing art. Art is the reason I am graduating college,” Flores said.

The show will run through next week with a closing reception on Friday, Feb. 27 at 4:15 p.m.

Photo by Rae Kuhlman
Photo by Rae Kuhlman
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