New art exhibit at Hillsboro Civic Center comments on consumerism
Travel down any major commercial street in North America, and you're bound to catch a glimpse of a colorful, geometric sign showing one of hundreds of widely recognizable brand logos.
Maybe you pass the sign by without a thought. Maybe you turn into a drive-thru.
If you're Pacific University art and design professor Tyler Brumfield, you're inspired by those logos — enough to create an entire exhibit's worth of art pieces.
In partnership with the Glenn & Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center, Brumfield invites people to look at logos, advertising and consumer culture differently at his exhibit called "Everyday Abstractions."
The exhibit will be on display outside the Shirley Huffman Auditorium at the Hillsboro Civic Center through October.
Brumfield used multiple different forms and artistic techniques to create the pieces at the exhibit.
One form is visible from outside the Civic Center, and the pieces have their greatest effect at night. They're several colorful, geometric lightboxes positioned in the windows of the building.
Brumfield, whose background is in tactile art and graphic design, first had the idea to create the lightboxes walking home on a busy street at night from his studio at the University of Montana, where he earned his master's of fine art.
"I just looked up in the sky and there was this huge glowing shape," Brumfield said. "I was kind of transported out of my normal headspace — I don't remember exactly what I was thinking about. But I was kind of blown away by it. I thought, 'That's an impressive display. It has a lot of visual power.'"
The glowing shape he saw was, in fact, an illuminated sign for Domino's Pizza.
Brumfield's experience was the catalyst for all the pieces in "Everyday Abstractions."
Brumfield started to consider how people, who pass similar signs every day, rarely take the time to consider their impact as an object, he said.
"We're so used to looking at an object like that in print or on a screen, so when it's in the sky, isolated like that, we just perceive it as it would be on a piece of paper," Brumfield said. "That was an intriguing thing to me, and it seemed like there were similar goals in what I was trying to do as an artist — to get someone to have a powerful visual experience."
The idea for the lightboxes, which are Brumfield's oldest works on display, developed into a series of pieces using graphic images.
Brumfield created half of those pieces by closely zooming in on parts of widely known brand logos, such as Sonic and Denny's, to create new, yet somewhat familiar, images.
The other half of the pieces were created by taking iconic brand logos and combining and rearranging them to, again, encourage people to look at such symbols more closely.
It's "a way to subvert the advertising," Brumfield said. "People are not used to seeing them that way. It's just the experience is all that it's offering you, the experience of the shape and the experience of the color."
A third and final art form at the exhibit Brumfield created in part by asking his friends to help collect pieces of trash such as bottle caps and plastic bags. He then assembled the discarded plastics around wood sculptures shaped like aquatic organisms.
The three forms at the exhibit are distinct from each other, but they're connected by a theme of consumerism, Brumfield says.
Although Brumfield encourages viewers to engage with the pieces in their own way to formulate their own interpretations, as any artist would, the sculptures "embody a critique of, maybe, our individual role in plastic pollution.
"Making that work was a way for me to realize just how complicit I am in a social and environmental problem," Brumfield said.
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