On the twelfth Thursday of the semester, I found myself wondering around the student art gallery and observing some interesting student art exhibitions, and the one that attracted me the most was Ashley Sharpe’s art exhibition entitled “Meow” displayed inside the Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery. I am more of a dog person, but the art that hung upon the gallery walls that focused only on cats caught my attention; it is the first art exhibition that I have seen in the entire semester that has focused on an animal and I found this art exhibition to be inviting and unique. What contributed to its uniqueness was due to it being a printmaking exhibition, so there were a variety of techniques used in creating the art, techniques such as etchings, lithographs, screen-painting, and mono-print. I found the exhibition inviting because although it was displayed like a formal art exhibition, it was not too serious- that is to say that the exhibition constituted a playful and familiar tone, for who does not know about cats or love them?
The artist certainly does not hate cats, for her love for these furry animals is what inspired her to create her art exhibition.The art hanging upon the walls showed many cats, some in colorful backgrounds and others in much somber ones, and according to the artist Ashley Sharpe, each artwork had its own story to tell, so it is up to the observer to interpret the tale of the cats in her artwork. Some of the artwork illustrated people with the head of a cat, a three-eyed cat, and a cat with only three legs, just to name a few. What I found interesting was the alter displayed toward the back of the gallery which contained candles and cat food (cans of food and mice). I was not too sure what the items were at first since they were decorated by glitter or what the purpose of the altar was but upon asking the artist, I learned that the altar was dedicated to cat food because it is what has kept cats alive, house cats and alley cats alike.
Upon observing Ashley’s art exhibition, I could not help but smile when I saw balls of yarn near the altar and hanging from the gallery walls. Without a doubt, Ashley succeeded in her goal of making her art exhibition formal yet creative and playful.
One would think that Ashley’s love for cats would mean her owning many cats but the truth is that she owns not even one, haha; all the cats that she has lived with and adored are either her roommate’s cats or cats she sees about the streets. Ashley may not own cats now, but if she were to live on a farm, the place would be filled with animals, cats being the main one. I could not agree more when I read on Ashley’s artists statement that cats (or dogs in my case) relief anxiety and stress; these animals are simply awesome. Ashley will receive her BFA in printmaking and she hopes to attend graduate school in the future as well as move back to her hometown of Palm Springs, where she has many connections with artistic people like herself. The artist has loved the arts ever since she was a child yet she would study architecture for awhile, abandoning it after finding out that she and mathematics were not the best of companions and that she was too creative and free-spirited for architecture.
All of the artwork displayed inside the Merlino Gallery is the work of two years total; each artwork could take six hours to six days to make. Art is certainly a discipline to master, and it is amazing to know that the artists at the student art gallery have done just that. It was nice observing Ashley’s art exhibition and speaking to her about it. May the future smile fondly upon her and her future cats.