‘Hidden Spaces’ opens to the public

The Visual Arts Committee is hosting the show in St. Paul.

Eric Mullis, left, Deborah Splain, center, and Kelly Cox, right, display their work Tuesday at the Larson Gallery in the St. Paul Campus Student Center. Open to the public, this “Hidden Details” exhibit runs from Tuesday until Feb. 11.

Raya Zimmerman

The Paul Whitney Larson Art Gallery in the St. Paul Student Center opened its doors Tuesday to invite the public to discover the “hidden” meanings of three artistsâÄô sculptures and paintings hosted by the University of MinnesotaâÄôs VisualArts Committee.

Of the various “hidden details,” one takes on the form of white ants crawling over chimpanzees.

What the three artists conveyed is that, while observing their artwork, “the closer you look, the more details you see,” Kelly Cox, one of the artists, said.

This monthâÄôs exhibit, which runs until Feb. 11, displays the works of Cox and her husband, Eric Mullis âÄî both 26 and graduates of a fine arts school in Missoula, Montana âÄî and of Deborah Splain, a painter with roughly 20 years of experience.

Cox said her art is “a form of expression that reaches deeper into the subconscious.”

Four of CoxâÄôs sculptures depict chimpanzees carrying handbags, tools and groceries and are being chased by small ants.

“ItâÄôs supposed to be a humorous, apocalyptic vision about the way civilization is going âĦ civilization being ants and chimpanzees being people,” Cox said. “Ants mindlessly build and are just drones. We are programmed and itâÄôs hard for us to turn around and think where we should go.”

MullisâÄô sculptures depict three human body parts, an arm, a leg and a head. He described it as “deconstructing and reconstructing the human figure.”

Both of their pieces “reward people for looking closer,” Cox said. “I think people, especially grown-ups, stop looking for anything thatâÄôs different from their perception, and thatâÄôs really depressing to me.”

SplainâÄôs paintings line the walls, filling in the gaps among the sculptures. One of her paintings, which was recently displayed at the Bloomington Art Center, was adorned in rose petals collected from
rose bushes.

“ItâÄôs from the perspective of the bush watching me take care of it,” Splain said, describing the painting, titled “Tending.”

“When you get up really close, you can see the petals underneath the glazes and they turn colors. ItâÄôs exciting to use a different material and see what it will do.”

The Visual Arts Committee displays art in the gallery every month throughout the school year, choosing artwork from artists from the community and around the world.

Alison Mach, a University sophomore and co-chairwoman of the committee, oversees the Larson Gallery and said they would like to see more student art in the galleries so more students come to see the shows.

She said the committee has tried to get people involved and to promote the Visual Arts by e-mailing the arts and graphic design students.

Mach said committee members can learn during the installation about the process of putting art on display to make galleries “aesthetically pleasing.”

Art is submitted to the Visual Arts Committee board throughout the year and members vote on which art pieces will be displayed together late in the spring semester, Mach said.

An opening reception for this exhibit will be held 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and allows an opportunity for the community to meet the artists.