Section: Arts

Review: Talent, emotion shine in open gallery at the Horn

Review: Talent, emotion shine in open gallery at the Horn

The Horn Community Mural | EMMA RICE

If you walk into the lower Horn this week, you will be surrounded by band equipment, an army of blank whiteboards and an array of visual artwork. Paintings, photographs and prints cover the gallery’s scuffed walls. You might circle the displays and sculptures in the center of the room, mesmerized by the complex detailing. 

Last Thursday, artists and Horn executives transformed the performance space into a gallery of student artwork. The theme was “Defrost,” but no further guidelines were provided, giving the artists plenty of space to interpret the theme however they liked. Each piece of art is as eclectic and experimental as the space itself as the artists explore themes of nature, humanity and bodies. 

The largest piece in the room is the Horn Gallery Community Mural, a massive collaborative painting. The artists painted brightly colored stars, animals and mushrooms against a dark gray backdrop. The piece stands out for its boldness in an otherwise muted room. Emma Chin-Hong ’25 also took on a nature theme in her skillful painting of an elegant oyster. 

Ayman Wadud ’25 contributed an incredible collection of nature photographs, stunning both for the landscapes they depict and the detail with which they were rendered. The middle photo stands out: a fluffy squirrel is perched upon a yellow rock in front of blurred ocean waves. 

Nick Russell ’25 showcased nature photos that play with light and dark. In one, a bright white swan peers out over a river. In the other, the lower two-thirds are taken up by the rolling gray hills; a stormy white sky gathers. Russell’s last photo depicts movement and blurry figures in a dark room. They could be talking, dancing or  laughing. The blurred image furthers the mystery of his monochromatic work. 

Simone Martel ’27 also considers movement in her work. Each photo is intentionally blurred and done in hyperchromatic colors. In one, two bodies embrace, blurred beyond recognition. A piece of white twine connects this photo to the next, one of a hand grasping a winged insect. The last photo in her string-connected trio shows the side profile of a baseball-capped boy staring pensively. A pole is inches from his nose. 

Across the room from these photos hangs multimedia work of different women by Lucy Kassel ’25. The scratches and watermarks on the work itself suggest a spirit of resilience. The whole work is timelessly done in shades of dark blue and white. On the opposite wall, a photograph by Halle Preneta ’25 captures another connection. The two people embrace, their gazes and arms relaxed. The contrast of the two different kinds of human connection lends the exhibition a thorough, contemplative feel. 

More artists experimented with images of people in their art. Emily Ewing ’24 and Ginger Semmelhack ’25 both created portraits. Ewing’s work is of a young man. The background is cut out, leaving the man suspended in space. Semmelhack’s painting depicts a young girl in a blue-striped top, her arms wrapped around a yellow pole. The sickly yellows, greens and blues combined with a childish image lend the work a vaguely unsettling quality. 

Emma Kang ’25 also plays with the human body in a series of prints. In her largest work, a humanoid creature is curled inside a fishbowl. Done in shades of blue and incorporating fantastical symbols — such as a mask, a club, coins — the work feels both human and not. On first glance, a human is the one trapped. As one looks closer, one will see the monstrous elements and wonder where humanity can be found within the work. Her other, smaller, prints depict different people and objects in shades of brown, black, white and red. 

Zoe Zehnder ’26’s multimedia art decorates the wall next to Preneta’s, Chin-Hong’s and Ewing’s work. Black- and white-painted coffee cups decorated with dancing human bodies hang by red strings from Command hooks. The red strings, suspended bodies and bold color scheme give/lend the work an ominous tone. 

A collage by Jordie Cornfield ’27 plays with themes of femininity, flowers and written communication. The piece includes fake pills spilling out of a prescription bottle, scattered thumbtacks and dried flowers mixed with paper flowers. Cornfield layered cutouts from different print mediums to label the different images. 

Lauren King ’25 embraces the contemporary world in the gallery’s central sculpture, which depicts a finger touching half a globe. The work explores the millennial experience, with images from 9/11, modern warfare, capitalism represented by dollar bills and the Amazon logo, the creation of the cell phone and emergencies like the Flint water crisis. Cutout words proclaim, “The Kids Are Not All Right.”

King’s work brings the point of the exhibit home: This is a haunting and beautiful exhibit that experiments with Kenyon students’ experiences both on campus and in the greater world. The only flaw of the exhibit was the lack of signage: Most works were left untitled. It would have been more interesting to read the titles of the works in order to get a better idea of what each work was trying to communicate. However, the curators still put the art in interesting conversation with each other, offering different views of humanity and nature.

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