‘Hue + Me’: BYU student-curated art exhibit explores color and inspires curiosity

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Matheus de Campos, right, and Erin Petersen, left, talk about Steve Santore’s “Inner Wealth” and “Peaceful Thinking” at the Hue + Me art exhibit at the Provo Library on Friday.

It is an unusual centerpiece, to say the least. Situated in the middle of the Academy Square Art Gallery in the bottom of the Provo City Library is a large, glossy, rainbow-swirled tree stump.  It’s just one of a collection of thought-provoking, color-themed pieces curated by BYU senior Kev Nemelka in his first solo curatorial project titled “Hue + Me.”

A reception on Friday Jan. 11, celebrated the opening of the exhibition, which will remain available for public viewing in the Academy Square Art Gallery through February. 

The concept for “Hue + Me”  was sparked by Nemelka’s fascination with color and was brought to fulfillment through the help of some key connections in the art community.

“I’ve always been a colorist at heart, so I wanted to start with a show that was primarily about color,” Nemelka said. “I did some color research and after realizing that I had enough artist friends who worked in this very colorful vein. I contacted them all and asked them to send me examples of their work. I started compiling lists of works that would work really well together, as well as with the thesis that I wrote for the show.”

The exhibition features works by BYU faculty members Fidalis Buehler and Andrew Ballstaedt, San Diego-based art professional Steve Santore, as well as other local artists, including Nemelka himself.

The show’s color-centric thesis explores color’s ability to inspire diverse artistic creations.

“(Color) is this oxymoronic circumstance of a ‘shared imagination,’” Nemelka said. “It’s a pool of resources that artists can draw from — that’s what makes it shared — but they still have their own imagination so that’s where the oxymoron comes in.”

In addition to examining the individualized influence of color, Nemelka hopes the exhibit will encourage art novices to connect and engage with the artwork, creating a more personal experience.

“It’s really sincere art, and it’s really simple art,” Nemelka said. “I want people to gain more confidence in approaching art and to be able to say why they connect with it.”

The opening reception found Nemelka well on his way to achieving this goal. An energetic crowd of experienced and amateur art enthusiasts spilled from the gallery into the hallway, engaged in both animated discussion and reflective contemplation about the artwork.

BYU senior Meg McGregor was one of the amateurs in attendance.

“The emphasis on color makes it more accessible, it resonates with everyone,” McGregor said. “All of this is really enjoyable.”

Another guest was contributing artist Steve Santore, who traveled from his California home to support Nemelka at the reception and to witness the inclusion of his pieces in the gallery.

“This is the work I love most,” Santore said.  “When people look at my art, I want them to see layers of thought. I want it to be worth taking another look.”

Santore reflected on Nemelka as a friend and fellow artist.

“He is very unusual, a very capable individual with a lot of very good years to look forward to,” he said.

“Hue + Me” is on display in the Academy Square Art Gallery in the Provo City Library until the end of February.

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