Faculty explores color in new exhibit

By Emma Kaden

Visitors to an upcoming exhibit by local artist and Columbia professor Anna Kunz will see large, dynamic paintings with vibrant, inviting colors.

The art show, “Anna Kunz: Color Cast,” will be held at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., from March 11 to June 24, according to a March 11 Hyde Park Art Center press release. It will feature seven large transparent paintings, each roughly half the size of a billboard, suspended from the ceiling and a larger painting on an elevated stage. Visitors are encouraged to walk on the stage, which is accessible by two ramps, or view the paintings from a catwalk.

“Color is the most non-containable element in art, and I’m interested in pulling work out of the space of the rectangle and into the space of my viewers to create a more inclusive experience, and color is the device I use to create that,” said Kunz, an associate professor of Instruction in the Art and Art History Department.

Kunz said she is inspired from the world around her and her own life.

“It’s all based on having the ability to be present and pay attention to things that are happening around meand then have my trust in intuition and spin my web from that,” she said.

Allison Peters Quinn, director of Exhibitions and Residency Programs at the Hyde Park Arts Center, said she is excited for exhibit’s debut after working on it with Kunz for three years.

“She has this ginormous sense of scale. Her shift in scale from a regular four-foot painting to the whole 20-foot floor-to-ceiling painting is really quite monumental, and I don’t see many women artists taking that on, especially in paintings,” Quinn said.

Quinn predicts this will be a unique experience for visitors.

“It’s important that people connect to their visual experience because this is what we see all around us,” Quinn said. “[The visitors] should expect to be surprised, and to have an experience like they’ve never had before in a way that hopefully changes the way they look at paintings.”

Duncan MacKenzie, chair of the Art and Art History Department, said he saw influences of abstract expressionists Mark Rothko, Josef Albers and Jackson Pollock in Kunz’s work.

“I feel like Anna welcomes in that painting history and, from that, tries to extend that history in a much more luscious, poppy, much more optimistic structure in terms of how color plays out in those specific pieces, and then brings that off the wall into a space that is beyond heroic scare paintings, is beyond the idea that this is just a large painting,” MacKenzie said.

The largest work is the floor painting, displayed on an elevated 30 by 30 foot stage embedded with transducers—electrical signal switchers—that, when activated, will play music by composer and 2013 music alumna Beth Bradfish, she said.

Bradfish, a composer with synesthesia—a neurological condition that overlaps the senses, such as “smelling” color—will be composing the music from sounds collected from Kunz’s painting process.

“I don’t want any of the sounds to interfere with the experience of Anna’s work. I want it to be giving a compliment to her work,” Bradfish said. “As you walk on the stage, you’ll be able to actually feel that sound. It will have a tactile sensation to the foot.

According to the Hyde Park Art Center press release, the exhibit will also include a series of free programs including live concerts and color workshops, such as a Jazz X-tet performance April 8 and an artist reception May 6.

“[Kunz] is thinking about color and light, and reflection, and how that affects how we feel a painting, if that’s even possible,” Quinn said. “It’s hopefully like nothing you’ve ever experienced.”