The “Color of the Year”, presented by PANTONE and X-Rite, is an exhibition at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA) that revels in the regality and decadence of PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, the PANTONE Color of the Year 2018.
The galleries are bursting with life and color and are largely inspired by botanicals and meditation. In addition to original works by individual artists, there are group pieces cultivated by local designers. “The Glam Room” is a collaboration between Via Design, Carlson Design, Diane Hasso Studio, Leigh’s Fashions and Rescom Electric. The space is furnished with chaise lounges, plush carpeting and elegant cabinetry. Beaded gowns hang from gold-plated racks, and a stack of books bearing the name “Chanel” rest on a glass end table. It’s like a snapshot from an Audrey Hepburn film.
“You can sit on the chaise lounges and you can step on the rug; apparently, it’s easy to clean,” said Katie Zychowski, marketing and communications coordinator for the UICA. “It’s fun. This is not a traditional UICA use of this space,” she continued. “The building itself has its own kind of vibe and this is just absolutely the antithesis of what is presented here, so it’s really interesting to see this in this space.”
Tiny rectangles painted in watercolors are aligned in columns along one wall on the main floor. Despite their soft and ethereal appearance, Sarah Nguyen’s mini portraits are making a statement.
“A lot of our works have their basis in politics, but they don’t look like they have their basis in politics,” said Miranda Krajniak, executive director of the UICA. “There was a quote after the election in 2016 saying, in essence, ‘every morning is a new morning and every day is a new day.’ Sarah is doing a small portrait of the sunrise for every day of the current presidency,” she continued. “You can see every single day, the specific time––6:02, 6:27, and this is an ongoing piece. This will be a four-year practice, potentially eight-year practice.”
On the opposite wall are the enchanting photographs of one Hwa-Jeen Na. His dreamy Ultra Violet pieces look digital, but they are far from it.
“He found this old film from Russia at a thrift store, put it in his camera, shot some works and didn’t know if it was going to come out,” Krajniak said. “Only 12 out of the whole row came out, and then he doubled up the pieces and actually created these. So, these are film photographs,” she continued. “The film had degraded to the point where it was violet.”
The bright, fun colors throughout the exhibition give the UICA a fresh and floral aesthetic, and it’s just what the doctor ordered.
“This is almost a celebration,” Krajniak said. “Oddly enough, I wonder if my own desire for spring and my own intense need for the outdoors and for botanicals and for life and for color is what is actually driving this show.”
The “Color of the Year” exhibition will run through August 2018. Visit uica.org for more information.
*Heading photo courtesy of UICA