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‘Narrow’ examines emotion, reality through various forms of work

Atlantic Works Gallery hosts “Narrow,” an art installation by Perla Castaneda and Kristen Freitas, from Sept. 9-30. PHOTO COURTESY KRISTEN FREITAS

Given the state of the world today, it is often difficult for humans to gauge their emotions and take time to reflect on their identities as they attempt to keep up with current events. “Narrow,” the newest show presented by Atlantic Works Gallery, provides a space where communities can reflect these important aspects of self.

“Narrow” features new work by artists Kristen Freitas and Perla Castaneda, where they examine the world around them through their respective mediums of work. The gallery will be showcased at Atlantic Works Gallery until Sept. 30, with an artist talk taking place on Sept. 21.

According to a description of the show, “Narrow” focuses on how an imposed and socially acceptable reality affects an individual’s surroundings.

“People are either going to come into the show with an open mind or a narrow mind, but you don’t know what narrow is to somebody,” Freitas said. “Some people might think they’re open-minded but they’re always going to be a bit narrow — not judgemental — but narrow as in not looking at the whole picture.”

Freita zeroes in on the emotional and physical ideals of society, including the ideals that we decide to accept or push away. She explores this theme within her artwork.

Freita said her first series, “Darkness #1,” includes colors that depict the abundance and the variations of emotion. The colors move depending on situation but maintains a stable color at its core. This mimics reality and the fluidity of emotions.

In her second series, “Darkness #2,” Freita said she presents a black core in the middle of the canvas with bright colors along the outskirts of the canvas. This painting represents how people tend to push away the emotions within themselves or the emotions of the world around them.

“My work portrays the ideals of hidden emotion, in a sense that mental health is not often talked about openly and publicly,” Freitas said. “The physical ideals of women and girls having to look a certain way, and men having to always appear macho without showing a hint of sadness and fear are the basis of my work.”

Freitas said her other pieces in the show include “Hello, beautiful!” which represents the idealistic thoughts we have about ourselves, “Joy and Happiness” and “Fear and Anger,” which touch upon the moods associated with color.

“I wanted to bring social awareness and empowerment to my pieces and to the lives of my audience,” Freitas said. “We’re all in this together and we can make the world a better place. Both Perla and I wanted to open minds to real life struggles and situations.”

Castaneda deals with the theme of reality, emotions and surroundings through videos and photographs that showcase her recent trip to Guatemala. According to the artist, the overall message of her work is challenging how we think about quality of life and the things we take for granted.

“I want my viewers to take a moment to examine what’s worth more in life,” she said. “Is it material objects? How many hours you work? Your family? Your partner? What is important to you and what are you taking for granted.”

One visitor of the show, Irmalyn Hernandez, 26, of Hyde Park was able to take that message to heart.

“When I entered the exhibit I was able to see and feel different emotions within the art,” Hernandez said. “I was able to understand what it means to be happy and how to appreciate what we have. At times, we take our freedom, family and way of living for granted. We don’t think about other people and how they manage to live.”

According to Castaneda, her work in “Narrow” focuses on her undocumented Guatemalan husband who is working towards his residency. Photos and videos capture his visit to Guatemala after 13 years, where he is shown interacting with family members.

Recent political events influenced her photos and videos to an extent, but Castaneda said she wanted to avoid the negatives of politics and instead present a side that politics doesn’t usually engage with. These images were her way of fighting back with what’s happening in the United States.

Castaneda’s view of the term “Narrow” is connected to perspectives people hold towards the lives and experiences of others; especially towards someone in a similar situation as her husband: a Latin-American immigrant who has come from poverty, but who also has many life experiences and skills.

“You can say my husband doesn’t belong here, and you might question how he’s able to get all of these rights and benefits that others have worked for,” she said. “The show actually works against the word ‘Narrow’ because his life isn’t as it seems.”

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