Radically different art styles examine shared culture and a respect and fascination with the mystical in “W*tch B*tch,” an exhibit presented by animation majors Kim De León, Nathalie Juarez and Cristior Miguel Vásquez.
The small room is dominated by its centerpiece, an ethereal transparent fabric cylinder studded with brightly colored flowers. The unnamed, collaborative, installation immediately drew the attention of the attendants, many of whom took the opportunity to step inside the billowing piece.
The artists also collaborated on a fiber and paper mache sculpture of Frida Kahlo wrapped in a blue scarf with her eyes closed. The sculpture is surrounded by candles.
The piece caught the eye of student Eric Flores, who also posed inside the fabric centerpiece.
“I really love the paper mache Frida head,” said Flores, who complimented the vibrant color palette of the event and said he loved the combination of “mischievousness and the mystic.”
The artists had noticed the lack of people of color depicted as witches, despite Mexico, South and Central America’s proud representation of brujos and brujas.
“Most witches are shown as white, Eurocentric girls,” De León said at the gallery’s opening.
In sharp contrast to the classic image of a pointy hatted broom riding white girl, De León’s digital art depicts witches as brown skinned, liberated women of color.
One standout piece shows three naked women lounging around a pentagram, but rather than seeming ominous, the piece’s cartoonish figures and bright color palette make it more serene than sinister.
De León said she hoped to showcase “something transgressive” with her contributions to the gallery.
Across From De León’s work, Juarez’s digital art is featured.
Her digital prints have distinct, thick contrasting lines outlining her figures, and thematically incorporates the most European influences.
One particularly cheeky work features four identical women smoking cigars parodying Andy Warhol’s Shot Marilyn prints.
Juarez also featured the widest variety of subjects. “I wanted to use brujas, but also brujos [male witches,] and curanderos [folk healers] who use white magic,” she said.
Displayed on the back wall, Vásquez’s art shares a corner with De León’s and Juarez’s pieces.
Vásquez echoed De León’s sentiments, saying that most depictions of witches are seen as “hats, brooms [and] white pretty girls.”
His art encompases a wide variety of styles from an impressionist witch’s circle rendered in moody oranges and ethereal greens to a surreal woman’s head with her eyes replaced by fluid black lines obscuring her identity.
Vásquez uses Gouache, an opaque watercolor that lasts an extremely long time and dries to a matte finish, for the green tones in the surreal landscape. He explained that Gouache is a medium that lasts, and while it may fade over the years, a little water will return it to its full bright potential.
Works of these passionate artists is meant to help revitalize parts of a vibrant culture that have been long locked in the dark.
W*tch B*tch can be viewed in the Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery from noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and from noon to 7 p.m. on Wednesday.