Humanity and Emotion

Written by:Gretchen Sims

Wednesday, Nov. 9 was the opening day of the newest edition to the Cannon Art Gallery, “the audacity of identity + color.” The featured artist —Julio Aleman— is based out of Portland, Oregon. Aleman uses oil paints to highlight the intricacies of human skin to  evoke  powerful emotions associated with it. 

Aleman’s art combines hyperrealism with two-dimensional pops of color   to signify parts of  cultures and backgrounds that are true to his models.

The featured works are  absolutely stunning. The painted faces peer out at passersby and the subjects —often people Aleman knows personally— appear ready to tell their stories. 

The passion and emotion that is conveyed by Aleman seems impossible— many viewers were in disbelief that these were not photographs.

Aleman began painting seriously when he was a senior in high school, but art has always been an important part of  his life.

“Art really is whatever you want it to be, it is like expressing yourself and I feel like I’m totally against ideas that constrict art to some like rulebook or like some pretentious like conversation or idea that isn’t accessible to everybody,” said Aleman. 

“I really strongly believe that people are artists and they don’t even realize it because they make art in so many other different ways that aren’t typically recognized as art.” 

The turnout to Aleman’s artist talk was incredible, and for good reason. Aleman had great advice to extend to aspiring artists, paired with  inspiring stories. Aleman encouraged students to never give up or conform in areas where they stand out. 

“I’ve been making art since I was like five. The story that I recall was like being in like Sunday School and like with all these little kids, you know, I was a little kid… and we were told like the assignment was to draw a picture of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus and I was like doing my thing and drawing and I realized that everybody was up already, they were done, and I look around and on everybody’s desk is like a big circle and a small circle. And so, I don’t know why, I like crumpled mine up,” said Aleman. 

Western Art Galleries continue to provide excellent examples for aspiring artists to aspire toward in their future careers. 

To check out “the audacity of identity + color” visit the Cannon Art Gallery 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Dec. 9. 

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