The Meaning Behind The Personal

On February 13, Baltimorean artist Jackie Milad's exhibit It Means Desert, Desert opened at the Julio Fine Arts Gallery. The exhibit is vibrant in color, texture, and sound. It is also very pink!

When I first was helping install this exhibit, I was honestly a bit confused. Looking at the work, I found myself trying to find the meaning behind the pieces. Why did the artist do this? What is she trying to say here?

All of the pieces are in the form of collage and are actually previous works of the artist. Milad has taken these archived works, re-evaluated each one, cut them up, and created new material. And my being confused is exactly what the artist wants. Each aspect of the display is purposely made difficult to see the meaning. It is completely open to interpretation. While each piece has symbols from Milad's imagination and icons with her Egyptian and Honduran heritage, it is very easy to find your own meaning or identity in each piece.

The artist wanted the work to be responsive, which is very much is. Whether it is from the multiple layers in the canvases hung on the walls or the projection of the fast-paced video with a custom, lively soundtrack, the entire exhibit jumps out at you.

What I really love about this exhibit is that nothing is perfect. Me being a perfectionist, this was hard for me to at first accept. While creating the scallops that line the walls, not one is the same. Some are small, some are large, some are barely touching, some are overlapping, and some barely round at the top. This made me twitch a bit, but after hearing Milad talk about her love for it, it really made me appreciate it. It shows individuality and is very personal.

The snake mural on the wall has paint drips coming down it. Was this a mistake? I don't think so. It shows the messy process of taking years of hard work and creating something entirely new. It emphasizes the layers and aspects of each piece on the wall. The pieces were not meant to have perfectly straight lines and perfect order. Instead, it shows the expression of an artist and years of hard work. It shows personality and looking within yourself.

I encourage you to all come and take a look for yourself at this beautiful exhibit that is a journey of artistic expression and personal exploration.

It will be on display until March 12.

-Emma Hagedoorn '20

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