Shining A New Light on Old Ideas

Sabrina Chacon-Barajas and Kelsi McDonald’s show at the Seattle Pacific Art Center this past week was a breath of fresh air. The blank walls of the gallery were transformed into stories formed from the world around Chacon-Barajas and McDonald; both artists attempting to shine light on issues seen in today’s world.

Kelsi McDonald’s wood works display the life of a woman in today’s world, specifically dealing she has dealt with in her life. McDonald’s paintings on wood portray mannequins in different outfits with different surroundings. One work that stood out among the rest was a mannequin dressed in a wedding dress which displayed McDonald’s eye for detail, the dress expanding from the wood drawing the viewer in to look at the intracit detail of the bodice. Each work portrayed the mannequin in a different stage of a woman’s life. Another work contemplates if a woman can be both a mother and in the workplace; bringing to light the hardship that comes to those who face this dilemma  Another mannequin fit with gears where a heart is usually located displays the heart condition with which McDonald born was with. Each mannequin displays a different part of her life or the life of women around the world. While the story McDonald’s works tells isn’t one that is entirely new it does however tell it in a new form.

The well-lit works of McDonald distributed evenly across the walls filled the space completely creating a harmonized show. The colors found in the works poised well with the black and whites found in Chacon-Barajas’ works.

Sabrina Chacon-Barajas’ work shines a new light on the Hispanic community. The main piece featuring over a hundred illustrations displays the community which Chacon-Barajas has seen around her both here at school in Seattle and also back in Reno where Chacon-Barajas grew up. Each illustration portrays a person within the Hispanic community, each an individual and different from the other; no attribute is repeated. The people portrayed range from families, pastors, to even hipsters. Each piece is detailed and unique in every aspect giving to the view that so is the Hispanic community which Chacon-Barajas reveals. 

These illustrations pair well with the landscape works placed on the opposite wall displaying Chacon-Barajas varied skill in illustration. On the wall oposite of her illustrations Chacon-Barajas displays a piece based off of her mother journey from Mexico to Reno. These landscapes start with a small house placed in Mexico then zoom out to show a larger view of mountains which finally zoom back in to Chacon-Barajas’ house in Reno. This piece beautifully displays that journey which many Hispanics have taken. The work pairs nicely across from the illustrations giving the viewer the idea that although the may have the same background the Hispanic community is still unique.

Along with the drawings placed on the walls a sculpture stands in the gallery showing a dress placed on a black skeleton. The piece displays a beautiful quinceanera made of fallen petals from lilies. The piece adds to the show by placing a dash of color in her other wise black and white show.

The combined works of Sabrina Chacon-Barajas and Kelsi McDonald display an innovative way of telling stories that are not new to us but are shown in a new light. With their creative take on these issues the works bring a new look at the lives of women and the Hispanic community. Both seniors demonstrate their skill in the rendering of their works but that wasn’t all they showed, the works also displayed a new view of the old ideas.

Lizzie Anema

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