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OSU Museum of Art hosting exhibitions aimed at college students

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Carolyn Cardenas and Bobby Ross Art Expo

The latest exhibit at the OSU Museum of Art, Bobby Ross' "Contradictions" and Carolyn Cardenas' "Small Worlds" features art that can start conversations with its audiences.

In Bobby Ross’ painting titled Tug of War, red letters leap out from a black background.

Pairs of contradicting words like “OBSESSED-UNINVOLVED” and “ORDERLY-CHAOTIC” dominate the linen in a font similar to that of an old alarm clock.

The printed words can almost be heard in the hushed gallery of the OSU Museum of Art, where the feelings emitted by the paintings are the closest thing to loud.

Through Dec. 10, the museum is hosting two exhibitions: "Contradictions" by Ross, and "Small Worlds," by Carolyn Cardenas. 

Another painting on a different wall provides a similarly disquieting effect. It is inspired by Cardenas' time living in New York and Los Angeles.

“I always felt like I had to nail my windows shut, in the heat, without air conditioning, to keep safe in questionable neighborhoods,” Cárdenas said.

But the woman in the picture has left her patio door open.

“That," Cardenas said, "is why the evening is compromised by wanting air.”

The Associate Curator of Education at the OSU Museum of Art, Catarina De Araùjo, said each new exhibit that takes its place on the walls is chosen with a target audience in mind.

The target audience of the current exhibitions by Ross and Cárdenas is college students. Araùjo said that every exhibit is beneficial to the gallery in some way, and this one is beneficial because it may start conversations among its viewers.

Araùjo said one of the main themes of the exhibit is anxiety.

“I have realized anxiety is a frequent theme in my work,” Ross said. “And humor, represented by Bambi and the Halloween pumpkin, our cultural icons, are my way of facing it.”

That combination of anxiety and humor will perhaps be the most relatable theme to college-age museum goers. Bambi and pumpkin he references are present in his painting, House of Fear, another piece in the exhibition.

Ross and Cárdenas are a married couple, whose styles intersect in the field of surrealism, though they take different approaches. Much of Cárdenas’ work is small, a product of the materials she works with.

Her method of starting with a black and white sketch is considered nontraditional. Meanwhile, Ross paints on a much larger scale. His paintings are vibrant, colorful and packed full of details.

“The evening is a witness to what could happen,” said Cárdenas.

In the painting, she sees through the eyes of the evening. Museum-goers can see through hers.