When Marywood graphic design and art history major Maxwell Christian began a recent personal project, he didn’t picture his work evolving into a unique show of art.
However, as a result of his personal project, he created his first exhibition, which he called “Altered States.” It’s a collection he says both expresses who he is and showcases his talents.
“The title Altered States was inspired by visions and dreams that people have on a daily basis that are often ignored,” said Christian. “When you embrace the weirdness of things, you can have something beautiful come out of it.”
Living in a society changed by COVID, Christian incorporated themes of loneliness, isolation and hiding into his artwork. This can be seen in the various masks hanging throughout the exhibition and the isolation of other pieces.
“A lot of it was inspired, as well as transpired, during the whole COVID ordeal,” said Christian.
Many different works can be viewed in this exhibition, from a large Egyptian inspired pyramid to large hanging masks inspired by ancient religious cults, as well as smaller pieces of metal welded together. Christian takes the idea of old religious cults and gods and transforms them into his otherworldly creations.
Among his designs are two giant hanging guitars made out of cardboard and paint. These fit into his ancient rock-style cult theme, as many ancient cults were associated with music.
There is also a lighting trick Christian said he created to enhance the colors and effects of his art. The blues and purples of lighting help pull everything together into a dark, fun and spooky vibe.
All of Christian’s pieces were created with the prospect that they all originate from the same world. To create a sense of relationship, every piece has the same color scheme, aesthetic and style.
“Since I’ve been here, I have not seen any one student do a solo exhibition with this much breadth of work,” said Sue Jenkins, associate professor of graphic and web design.
“I am very impressed, especially because it is not just one medium; [he includes] illustration, design, sculpture, lighting and painting,” she added.
For Christian, creating these pieces of art was a meaningful experience where he learned and tested new skills and techniques. It all started with his cardboard mask, titled Oog, that inspired him to create such a world. He would draw his ideas, create them and keep recreating them until he completed his masterpieces.
Christian said he decided to create both small and large works, not only to showcase his various skills, but also for the challenge it presented and to leave a lasting impression on those who view his work.
Both Christian and Jenkins encourage more students to visit Altered States, a place filled with ancient cult inspired artwork, spooky lighting and magnificent artistic talent. The exhibition will be on display in the Kresge Gallery at the Insalaco Center for Studio Arts through November 13, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
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