Emily Logan

Beginning today through Dec. 2, the University Art Gallery will feature “BLUEprints of the Heart: A Drawing Installation by Maria Velasco,” a multimedia exhibit reflecting emotions, change and renewal.

Maria Velasco, associate professor at the University of Kansas, will be giving a gallery talk today at 5 p.m. followed by an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. These events are free and open to the public.

Velasco uses primarily paper and blue tape to portray emotion in a simple and transitory way.

“I wanted to work with temporary materials,” she said. “Tape is low-tech, so it’s a way to make a drawing, but you’re not stuck with it. You can move it and change it.”

Velasco also chose tape that was specifically blue in color.

“I have a connection with the color blue,” she said. “When I saw it, it just made sense for me to use it.”

The idea for the exhibition began with a paper heart, Velasco said.

“I found some wallpaper and I wanted to work with the heart and emotions and express them with paper,” she said.

Located in the center of the exhibition space is what she calls the “forest of tears,” which can be taken for what it is or seen in different ways.

“I thought of the possibility of tears as shapes,” Velasco said. “When you double them they look like hearts.”

She said they also look like butterflies because the shapes are folded out slightly from the paper, and that image invokes a feeling of transformation.

Aside from her own vision of what the exhibition should be, Velasco said she wants viewers to take what they want from it.

“You want people to entitle themselves, to feel what they feel and not be dependent on what the artist means,” she said.

One of the challenges Velasco encountered is that she had only seen the gallery briefly before coming in to construct her exhibition.

“When I offer an exhibition, I always like to go to the space and take pictures,” she said. “My work is site specific . . . But it’s not until I’m here that I have a feel for the space.”

Since Velasco’s exhibition uses floor space and different materials, constructing it in a week was also difficult. Christine Kuper, University Art Gallery coordinator, said a big part of the process is being able to tie various art pieces together within the space.

“In this case, (multimedia) really just means she’s using lots of different kinds of materials,” Kuper said. “However, it does pose the challenge that she doesn’t really know what it’s going to be until she actually constructs it in the space.”

Velasco said when she has additional time to construct the exhibitions, she can change things around more.

“In this exhibition, there is an element of time and movement and change,” she said. “To me the drawings are also three-dimensional, so I work with the materials so they can change.”

Velasco has done exhibitions all over the world, such places include Germany, Paraguay and various galleries in the United States. Her exhibitions are different as far as content and visual appeal, but she often uses multiple mediums and she frequently uses the color blue.

The University Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. It is located in Dexter building 34, room 171. For more information about Maria Velasco, visit www.mariavelascostudio.com.

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