Symbolism takes on new meaning in “Not What It Appears” art exhibit

Veronica Bui, 19, graphic design, explores the gallery and finds meaning behind the different pieces for her art class. (Melanie Roberts)

Melanie Roberts

The Saddleback College Art Gallery has a new exhibit this fall called “Not What it Appears,” a group exhibition on symbolism, featuring five local Southern Californian artists.

Bob Rickerson, the art gallery director, said the theme surrounds the idea of symbolism as art.

“It is not everyday symbols you’ll recognize. They are personal,” Rickerson said. “The artists leave it up to your own interpretation.”

Having run the Saddleback art gallery for 10 years, Rickerson said it is a nice opportunity to get the local artists’ work out there.

Rickerson created the exhibit already knowing three artists with work involving this theme. He later invited two other professional artists with sculpture pieces to join the exhibit to add a different medium. Rickerson felt that each of their works were exceptional.

At the artist’s reception on Sept. 13, many exhibit goers were enticed by the artwork being shown.

“I thought it was a good small exhibit. It was different, but everything seemed to fit together,” said Alexi Elconin, 24, UCI art. “There was an element of mystery in each piece.”

Another attendee, Jordan Anderson, 18, psychology, said, “I like the art piece Trickster by Deborah Davidson. I thought the concept was amusing, but had a lot of depth.”

Other art viewers attended the reception for an art class project. Veronica Bui, 19, graphic design was one of those students.

“For my live model class, I am writing about pictures and the meaning behind it,” She said,

She was especially drawn to this painting of a Buddha that to her seemed peaceful.

Two of the artists described their personal connection with their work and the symbolism within their pieces.

Artist Holly Topping said, “I immortalized self angles in a totally absurd way.”

She chose to align her younger image with bizarre animals that viewers wouldn’t normally choose to associate with.

Each of her pieces in the exhibit involves an image of herself at age 15 and some sort of prehistoric scene.

“It is a disco queen inserted in time,” Topping said. “It’s a way to stay in a ridiculous paradise forever.”

Another local artist with three pieces in the exhibit, Rodger Whitridge, said he has been working with art since he was a kid.

“I deal with issues like harmony of opposition, for example chaos and order,” Whitridge said.

The “Not What It Appears” artists, Topping, Whitridge, Trine Wejp-Olsen, Davidson, and Colin Roberts, demonstrate fresh ways to interpret symbolism.

The gallery puts out two shows a semester, which always include modern professional artists. However, there is a student show every spring and a faculty show every three years.

The exhibit runs Monday, Sept. 12 through Thursday, Sept. 29 in the Saddleback Art Gallery, located in the Fine Arts Complex. There will also be an Art Talk Saturday, Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

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