By Abby Wargo

Student Life Editor

Jan. 26 marked the opening of the first exhibition of the year at the Kohl Gallery, “What’s Next?”. The exhibition centered around art with politically salient themes that were conceived in light of the recent election cycle.

Megan Dulin & Rachel Schmidt

Meghan Dulin talks with Rachel Schmidt

Before the opening, four of the five featured artists partic- ipated in a panel discussion where they talked about their art and the inspirations for it. Each artist came from a different background, and the gallery exhibition displayed some of the most pressing issues facing American citizens today. Ben Marcin, a German-American photographer based out of Baltimore, discussed the concept of home in his work during the panel. “I like to take pictures in places where people live on the edge,” he said. One of his photographs included in the exhibition was a row house in downtown Baltimore. Each of the other houses in the row had since been demolished, and “why would one [row] house be left standing?” Another photo in this series features a hobo camp from 2011. The house in the photo is made entirely of doors. “What struck me was how creative [the hobos] are…they make these little McMansions that are gone within a year,” Marcin said. His photos are representative of the diverse and unique American population. “We all choose different paths in life, and they may not all be good ones, but these people still found a place to live,” Marcin said. Another featured artist, Rachel Schmidt, focuses on the environment. “I started having these climate panic attacks…I’d get a huge ball of anxiety thinking about climate change and the environment and so I wanted to start something personal,” Schmidt said. For six months, she saved all her non-biodegrad- able trash and then covered it in pictures of primeval Polish forest. “This project provided a cathartic understanding of how much I consume on a daily basis.” For her, this project created a step for her to become more empowered as an artist and an activist. “Climate change is a strong binding element for all of humanity,” she said. “It’s one of the only things that is univer- sally beneficial.” Christina Neptune, whose art is mostly film-based, focus- es on intersectionality of the genders, races, and classes, and mental health. “There is a gaze of constructs when people look at me…I want to break down that gaze,” she said. “I am a black female artist, and that is always how people see me. I am never looked at as just an artist.” The issues that she deals with in her art are expressed as molds of perception and stereotypes, and in her films, the characters are often trying to break free from these molds. “What’s Next?” includes one or more works by each of the five artists, with a variety of different mediums represented. The exhibit will remain on display in the Kohl Gallery until March 10.

Abby Wargo

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