Student sends political message with art collection

The first thing you see when you walk into the Hugh McPeck Gallery’s exhibition of Carol McCarty’s “We’re All in This Together” that captures attention is “Coastal Erosion,” a scene of ceramic human figures with pained expressions laying on a sea of blue fabric next to a submerged Statue of Liberty.

“Coastal Erosion,” created by Carol McCarty, was inspired by a lack of focus on erosion of Alaska villages. Photo credit: Christian Cielo

“It occurred to me that villages in parts of Alaska are being washed away… so I thought, ‘What if it were Manhattan?’ Then, people would pay attention,” McCarty said.

McCarty, who worked as a registered nurse before obtaining a master’s degree in public health, channels her career, life experience and interests in “We’re All in This Together.” After being confirmed by the advisory board last spring for a solo gallery show, she began working to put the exhibition together.

The politically charged collection reflects on motifs of public health, environmental health and the long-term effects war imposes on societies.

Jaydon Mitchell, a culinary major, particularly enjoyed “Coastal Erosion.”

“Taking into account the current global climate, this exhibit was really raw and eye-opening… it sent shivers down my spine,” Mitchell said.

Across the gallery opposite of “Coastal Erosion” sits a vibrant red, abstract sculpture called “Horror.”

“Horror” is a piece made and inspired by the weapons of war. The red colors and faces were designed represent the people affected by mass violence. Photo credit: Christian Cielo
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“’Horror’ is based on the weapons of war and the impact, so it had to be bloody. I’ve long been disappointed that the world thinks we need so many landmines and that they still remain submerged, maiming and killing humans and animals,” McCarty said.

McCarty began taking art classes while she finished her master’s degree in public health in 2015. She took a few art classes each semester, gradually exploring different mediums before deciding to focus on three-dimensional art.

“I’ve gotten to know Carol [McCarty] a lot over the last few years,” Alanna DeRocchi, UAA ceramics instructor, said. “This exhibition is a great collection of all her experiences into the statement she’s making… Having someone like Carol is useful in class, so other students can see how someone brings their experiences into their work.”

In “We’re All in This Together,” McCarty also responds to the current political climate in America.

“It seems like everything I care about is under attack, healthcare, the environment and science…” McCarty said. “It seems like it’s not being listened to.”

“Socialism” is a piece inspired by Kathe Kollwitz, an artist many believed to be a socialist. Artist Carol McCarty composed the piece for her exhibition in the Hugh McPeck Gallery, entitled “We’re All In This Together,” to demonstrate motifs of the long-term affects surrounding public and environmental health issues. Photo credit: Christian Cielo

While putting the exhibition together, McCarty realized she needed a symbol of hope for the dystopian world she was reflecting on, which brought her to create the piece “Mother.” She purposely crafted the face and features of the woman in “Mother” to be non-distinct because she wanted the focus of the piece to be on the hands holding the child.

“There is no greater symbol of hope than a human child,” McCarty said. “Every child deserves to be given what they need to achieve greatness because… without this nurturing and domesticity, societies will fail.”

There will be a First Friday reception for “We’re All in This Together” from 5 to 7 p.m. March 2 in the gallery, located upstairs at the Student Union.

The Hugh McPeck Gallery is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays.