Celebrating UConn’s brilliant artists at The Rainbow Center ‘Art Gala’

A slide displaying student artist, Kallan Doyon’s photography. Despite the challenges of the online platform, both the hosts and artists seamlessly transitioned to holding the Rainbow Center’s “Art Gala” online. Photo courtesy of Meghan Shaw.

This year’s online adaptation of the annual Rainbow Center Art Gala featured several artists, all with immense talent, who displayed their pieces over Zoom. The gala was held Thursday, Nov. 11.  

Although different from a traditional art show, the online platform allowed each artist to display and describe their pieces, while also giving other attendees the opportunity to give comments and ask questions freely.  

The variety of mediums and styles displayed by each person created a beautiful and dynamic array of artwork.  

“Every artist has a unique perspective and style and I’m so glad they got to showcase that tonight,” said Mita Kale, a seventh semester ecology and evolutionary biology major and Rainbow Center team leader. 

Some artists, like Kallan Doyon, showed their skill with photography. Doyon’s photos centered around nature, with up-close images of flowers. Each picture was taken in a different part of Connecticut, some of which highlight the mathematical properties of floral imagery. She used a method of photography that shows the stunning details of each subject. 

Cassandra Calebrese’s medium of choice was pencil on paper for pieces such as “The Shed.” When asked to discuss her art, she explained she wanted to draw on happy memories and feelings to make them appear more unsettling through colors and values. She also received praise for her use of texture in her art, which she said was inspired by both tree bark and skin. 

Other artists expressed themselves using digital art. The vivid colors and distinct styles of each piece showcased the creativity of each artist. Every piece told a story, whether it was inspired by another work, or an experience the creator had. 

Cal Benitex, a digital artist, described both his methods and muses for his art. The vivid colors and compelling style of his pieces were eye-catching, and conveyed feelings that were further supported by the stories behind the artwork. This is clear in “Dark Side of the Moon,” which he said was created with the intent of expressing strong emotions. 

Wren Halpern, also a digital artist, created a two-paneled piece called “We Forgive Ourselves.” Also employing the use of strong colors, they explained the intensity of the piece was designed to be both jarring and familiar at the same time. The title of this piece comes from the sentence that spans the top of both panels: “We must forgive ourselves sometimes for what our brain creates.” 

Each artist welcomed questions and comments, giving the attendees a chance to gain insight into each piece of artwork. When answering the questions, the artists revealed how much thought went into all of their art, showing that even the smallest details can carry significant meaning. 

“I loved tonight’s Art Show because we could really connect with the artists and ask them specific questions in the virtual format,” said Kale. 

After the artists had presented their work, and everyone had had a chance to ask questions and give compliments, the hosts invited everyone to share some of their favorite artists via Instagram. This also gave the artists an opportunity to share other works that they had not submitted to the gala. 

Despite the challenges of the online platform, both the hosts and artists seamlessly transitioned to holding the gala online. While it is difficult to get together, now more than ever, the Rainbow Center’s art show gave students a chance to connect with each other over a passion for art.  

“It’s really important for the community to be able to express themselves and feel connected to one another, especially right now,” said Kale. 

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