Going green. Green-eyed monster. Greenbacks. Green thumb. Green around the gills. It’s not easy being green.

Angela Cesere

The color green has infinite entendres and meanings. More than a color, green is positive and negative – it’s a feeling, a lifestyle and a pop-culture catchphrase that is socially relevant. In a fitting and fascinating exhibition at the Work Gallery on State Street, students in the School of Art and Design explored the vast and varying associations of the color.

The pieces in this exhibit are as diverse as the color’s definitions. They are serene and nature based. They are alarming and political. They are understated and overpowering. The color green pervades the quaint gallery space, providing a mood that shifts as often visitors changes their object of focus.

The association of green with nature is inescapable, and many of the pieces tie into that with serene photos of green fruits and plants, leaves sewn together and placed upon a ledge and a sculpture carved from cherry wood in the form of a bouquet. There is a focus on the organic beauty of growth.

There’s also a common theme of double meaning to the exhibit. UM, REPHRASE. For example, toy soldiers are linked together to form a peace sign in a work titled “War and Peace.” Another work plays with optical illusion and the properties of the color green. On a black background, green is spelled out in bold letters with smaller associated words surrounding it, the words written in red. Looking away, however, the viewer, for a split second, sees the words in green against the white wall.

Since green also is closely tied with the American dollar, one section of the exhibit is actually made up of students’ interpretations of a more ideal currency. These works are political, challenging American capitalism.

In the gallery’s lower level, along with several pieces, there sits a chair facing a projection wall where multimedia projects are constantly running. Visitors are drawn to take a seat and absorb the pieces that further explore the meaning behind the complex word green. The short pieces are also available for viewing on the website playgallery.org and are aired in shorts on Michigan Television and Michigan Channel. In our YouTube obsessed culture, the website makes it possible for a different audience to experience art they may not have taken the time to see by “momentarily transforming television and the internet into gallery space.” The site is a creative and collaborative project from the Art and Design School and Michigan Public Media.

Other works contain full stimulation of the senses in terms of sound, sight and feeling. They invite visitors physically within the green spaces. One, titled “Feeling Green,” is a simple green felt enclosed area asking visitors to step inside and then write down how they feel, placing their response in an adjacent box. The exhibit contains an excellent balance between works that are interactive and those that are more traditional playing with expectations to provide an exhibit that truly invites thought.

The Green Show is creative containing a varied array of “green” art by talented students at the University. It’s easy to stop into the Work Gallery between classes or on the weekend, so no student has an excuse to miss it.

The Green Show
Work Gallery
Through November 9
Free

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