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New interactive art exhibit open at Coffman Art Gallery

The exhibit invites students to explore connections with nature and gain inspiration to create their own art.
Image by David Monterroso
The featured artists draw on scenes from nature and bright colors in their work.

Efflorescence, an interactive art exhibit at the Coffman Art Gallery, opened on Jan. 26 to give students an opportunity to create their own art while walking around the gallery.

Being shown until March 19, Efflorescence features the work of artists Laura Ahola-Young and Umbreen Hasan. The gallery provided students who attended the opening reception with paint pens and canvases to express themselves through their own art as they took in the exhibits.

Focusing on the connection between art and healing, the exhibit aims to inspire students much like how the featured artists have been inspired.

Hasan said nature “inspires her pieces,” and art has become a therapy for her.

“All of my art is derived from nature with bright colors to spark joy,” Hasan said. “Nature has so many beautiful colors and that inspires me, and that is what this collection is all about.”

Hasan is a rheumatologist and works with patients that have arthritis. She had never painted a day in her life until she was in a car accident in 2016.

“After my car accident, I was depressed and wasn’t working, so I went to Michaels and by chance ended up in front of paints. I began to paint every day as it helped with my depression,” Hasan said. “When I am surrounded by color, I am separated from the world and lose all track of time.”

Hasan said painting helped improve her mental health, so she wanted to share her gift with others.

“I used to donate my art to charities, and people really loved seeing my paintings first thing in the morning; they said it gave them joy,” Hasan said. “I want to make a center for people who struggle with arthritis or depression, or anything where I help them develop paintings.”

Hasan said she hopes to spread a mission of joy through her artwork.

“Painting is for yourself; your emotions are conveyed on the canvas. Whatever is on your mind you can put on the canvas,” Hasan said.

Hasan’s work features her distinctive style rooted in bright colors, modeled after different scenes in nature and painted with items such as hammers and compressed air to create unique textures.

Clarice Vrambout is a fourth-year student majoring in art at the University. Vrambout said she often visits art galleries and liked that the exhibit connected to nature.

“Whether the piece is geometric or flowy, it focuses on repetition and patterns in nature. It makes me think almost of divine symbols and how nature is divine in a way,” Vrambout said.

Vrambout said the exhibit inspired her to paint more and experiment with different media she did not use as often, such as acrylic.

“I have liked both of the exhibits I have visited, so I will probably come back,” Vrambout said. “It is nice that they have the space for this in buildings that aren’t just art-focused.”.

Anika Byrne, the arts and culture events planner for the Student Unions and Activities, planned the exhibits. Byrne oversees and manages all three art galleries at the University and said having galleries with exhibits like this one on campus are good opportunities for students to engage with art.

“I think it’s so important for the arts to have a place at the University. Even just these exhibits add so much culture to the student center,” Byrne said. “Many students don’t get to visit art galleries often, and Coffman has become a hub for those experiences. From a student-employee perspective, these galleries give art students an opportunity to experience professional art settings.”

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