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Sleepless in South Texas UTRGV’s School of Art opens graphic design exhibit

Graphic design senior Samantha Reyes chose the theme, Dreamers. Reyes’ artwork broaches the topic of illegal immigration.
Graphic design senior Samantha Reyes chose the theme, Dreamers. Reyes’ artwork broaches the topic of illegal immigration. Valeria Alanis/The Rider Photos

What keeps you up at night? Is it something spooky like a clown running around in your dreams? Could it be the fear of a president that threatens your citizenship? Or is it a feeling that eats at you slowly like the doubts within yourself you can’t control? Sometimes, it’s easy to find yourself sleepless in South Texas with a case of insomnia.

Senior graphic design artists opened their exhibition, “Insomnia,” last Thursday, under art Associate Professor Robert Gilbert, who teaches the BFA Senior Graphic Design exhibit course.

“A show like this is kind of an initiation of sorts,” Gilbert said.

He wanted students to take risks and be able to feel proud of their work, saying that in his class they are pushed to go past their boundaries.

“In the class, they take small risks,” Gilbert said. “They put their work on the wall. We talk about it, and we criticize it in a positive way. So, there’s a certain amount of emotional risk taken in doing that. It gets to the point where they have the strength to have their work critiqued and be able to defend it.”

Students each have their own take on the theme.

Samantha Reyes chose to break the mold in her own way by centering the theme on the Dreamers of DACA and illegal immigration.

Reyes found inspiration and help from her peers.

Art Associate Professor Robert Gilbert says that “Insomnia” gives his students the opportunity to feel proud of their work and is also a kind of an initiation for them.

“I probably wouldn’t be able to do any of this alone,” she said, emphasizing the importance of teamwork in creating large-scale pieces.       

Eric Rodriguez demonstrated his idea of insomnia by intertwining his interests of fantasy and science.

 “I’ve always had a passion for both science and fantasy,” Rodriguez said. “So, I was trying to combine them in a way to make these mythical creatures more anatomically and scientifically correct.”

Posters, sculptures and sketches, he described his process as an idea that gets built and reimagined over and over until he sees it coincide.

“It all starts with a very rough idea, and then I just go over and refine it, refining it and refining it until it all makes sense together,” Rodriguez said.

Daniel Manrique embraced insomnia by having his take be on the adult understanding of childhood bedtime stories or fairy tales.

“My inspiration behind my pieces, are the fact that when we are children, and we hear bedtime stories or folktales, we don’t really understand that sometimes there is a deeper meaning, and you understand that once you are an adult,” Manrique said.

His pieces include the “Three Little Pigs,” and his interpretation of the existentialist tones the fairy tale has.

There’s much to see at “Insomnia,” with something for everyone. Quite simply, art is expressed in every facet, leaving viewers feeling as though they, too, experienced the emotional journey the artist did.

“Insomnia” will run until Nov. 22 in the Visual Arts Gallery in UTRGV’s art annex, located at 2412 S. Closner Blvd. in Edinburg.

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