Born of stress, built for catharsis

Proud artist: Jenna Reed stands in front of her favorite painting in the exhibition, titled “Overwhelmed.” Reed’s work will continue to be displayed in the art building until Feb. 23.

Yash Chitrakar

Of all the incredible capabilities the mind has, its most interesting is perhaps its ability to hold many contradictory thoughts seemingly simultaneously. This facet of the mind, however, can lead to a stressful existence, which can be at times overwhelming.

“Overwhelmed” is the title of Jenna Reed’s favorite painting in her art exhibition titled “Coping.” The exhibition runs from Feb. 19 to Feb. 23 at the John R. Adams gallery in the art building. It features portraits and paintings that capture the complexity of themes like anxiety, stress and Reed’s coping mechanisms.

“Overwhelmed,” for example, is a self-portrait in which her face is covered, almost suffocated, by three sets of hands. The hands truly overwhelm the face desperately tries to reach for escape.

The exhibition is divided into two halves, to mimic the bifurcation that the brain goes through when under stress-that nagging feeling of apathy and the pull from the stressors. The right side comprises realistic self-portraits that showcase Reed’s coping mechanisms while the left sees a lot of abstract work, representing her breaking away or letting loose.

The two sides are brought together by a mixed media sculpture, a work made of crisscrossed strings gradually unraveling into a clearer, less busy pattern, in the middle. The work is called “Thought Process” and was made in collaboration with Sam Veal.

The right side has interesting installations like “Desperate” that show three figures representing herself looking, as the title suggests, desperate. The three figures are partly superimposed, one facing right, one away from the viewer, and one upwards, which give a sense of the passage of time where one loses focus of the present and time seems to meld together.

The left starts off with a completely abstract oil painting called “Less Control,” which comprises a melange of lines and triangles, all following the color scheme of the exhibition: pink, red and brown. Reed used a palette knife to create this painting and plans to keep using it in the future for its expressive nature.

“The palette knife forces you to be more expressive, which [is] the direction I want to head in,” Reed said.

Since Reed is a senior art education major, she also incorporated education as part of this exhibition. Most of the artwork on display have QR codes which, if scanned, will direct audiences to YouTube videos that detail the work process for that particular work.

Reed is an organized person out of necessity and said it has almost become a habit. She has to stay organized to minimize stress. For her, art is one of the avenues to release that stress.

“If I had to do something I know, what is there that I know better than myself?” Reed said.

This exhibition was born of stress, but it surely seems to have released Reed of some of the stresses and given her a sense of catharsis, as so much of art intends to do.