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Saturday, November 27, 2021

‘The Darkness Within’ exhibit at The Basement Gallery spotlights students’ talents

Students DJs and artists host concert, gala in basement of Art UC Davis’ student-led art gallery showcases both collaborative and personal, expressive artwork at first show of the quarteruilding

By ANGIE CUMMINGS — arts@theaggie.org

On Friday Oct. 8, UC Davis’ entirely student-run art gallery, The Basement Gallery, held its first in-house show since the COVID-19 pandemic — starting the first quarter back on campus with some exceptional student artwork. The show was titled “The Darkness Within,” referencing “spooky season being around the corner,” as stated on their Instagram page. The show was not restricted by any medium, style or even size, as there were introspective photography works, whimsical ceramics, experimental video and sound pieces and much more. 

In the center of the small basement room of the art building was a large-scale sculptural installation made up of unidentifiable reddish masses growing in size as they reached the very center, which consisted of a metallic cylindrical pole reaching the ceiling. There was no tag or written information regarding this piece, making it even more intriguing, and allowing viewers to take whatever they needed from the work.

Another conceptual and abstract work was playing directly across the sculpture on an old Sony TV. While it was just as unclear as to what you were looking at, this work by Kai Maurer-Mabanglo, a fourth-year design major, titled “Clean,” was paired with a succinct explanation about how their work reflects the way that “proximity of family affects the individual,” perhaps alluding to the sentiments of some students after spending much of the pandemic back at home.

One piece of art that cannot be ignored is the collaborative work painted directly onto the one support column in the room. To read the many sentiments written on the column in sprawling black paint, you are forced to repeatedly circulate it, and before even finding the information tag, it is clear exactly what this artwork is. The artists created a literal opinion column to express their feelings toward the university and to more personal audiences — with statements like “WE OWE YOU NOTHING,” “goodbye and good riddance” and the wonderfully concise “F*** YOU” taking up an appropriately large amount of space. This creative play on words perfectly tied the show together, as it was a collaborative work in the center of a room, balancing out the extremely personal works along the walls.

It would have been impossible to leave this show without a renewed appreciation for the amazing work students can create when they are completely in charge. From the curation and promotion of the show to every aspect of its design and event organization, everything was done by UC Davis students, for other students to enjoy. 

This show was the first of many more events for the 2022-23 school year. Next up is a ceramic showcase partnered with the John Natsoulas Center for the Arts (the one on 1st Street with the giant cat sculpture outside) coming up on Oct. 22. The other event announced so far is a quarter-long anthology series exploring the effects and experiences of over-sexualization in our society today, which will be shown during the tenth week of the quarter. Announcements and information about the gallery can be found on their Instagram, @ucd_basement_gallery, as well as on their website.

Written by: Angie Cummings — arts@theaggie.org

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