Down to earth mixed media exhibit shows ‘True Colors’

Claire Oliver

Using personal experiences to inspire herself and others, Northwest artist Nan Curtis’ “True Colors” exhibit opened this week in the Miller Fine Arts Gallery.

The show features multimedia pieces. It uses everyday objects to inspire
discussion of social taboos, Cris Moss, adjunct professor of art and visual culture and gallery coordinator, said.

“(It consists of) objects she has sculpted, created and collected,” he said, to name a few of the artist’s wide range of techniques.

Curtis said her mixed media sculpture work is idea-driven; once she has an idea in her head, she does whatever it takes to make it a reality.

“True Colors” features wood, grout, concrete and upholstery work. Some pieces required more advanced mastery of skills, such as carpentry.

“When it makes sense, I put my hands into it,” she said.

For more complicated techniques, she commissioned others to do the work.

The result of this compilation, Curtis said, is
family-themed with a variety of home-related objects.       

Curtis said her work was inspired by her own personal experiences and hopes it will invoke similar memories in her viewers.

“(It) isn’t so myopic that no one else relates,” she said.

Curtis described one of her pieces, a 6-foot-tall
staircase, that particularly exemplifies this aim.

On one side of the
staircase is a door that leads to a fort inside.

“I left the fort to describe itself,” she said. “I didn’t over-verify.”                     

Moss said he is looking forward to the reactions of people who see the exhibit, as he anticipates a variety of responses.

“(People) will take different things away from it,” he said. “They will write their own story.”

Other pieces, such as an upholstered dog and a “family tree pile,” stuffed with shammies and cotton, make up what Curtis said is an unsophisticated exhibit.

“(The work) is simplistic both in its concepts and its material,” she said. “It’s very straightforward, but asks you to look for yourself.”

Moss said Curtis’ work caters to a large audience and is certain it will provoke questions and concerns, whether people like it or not. This, he said, is what makes her work powerful and important.

Moss emphasized how the pieces work well together to enhance the effects of others.

“It’s hard to tell if they are individual pieces or part of the whole installation,” he said.

“True Colors” will be on display through May 10 in the Miller Fine Arts Gallery, Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

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