Beetles, Butterflies, Vintage Girls: Step into a colorful ‘Colony’ at United Colors this September
Beetles and vintage girls don’t typically go together, but this time, we are making an exception for the current exhibition at United Colors’ container gallery. Colony, presented by artist Marika Arellano Christofides, is transforming a shipping container into a bio-fantasia filled with colorful beetles and butterflies made with old-time golden girl elements for the month of September.
Formerly known as Curiouser KC, United Colors has been inviting Kansas Citians to explore a rapidly growing art scene in the Strawberry Hills neighborhood.
Since its incubation, the gallery and its curators have gone beyond traditional perceptions of art and art exhibitions to create one-of-a-kind interactive experiences. These exhibitions invite the audience to touch, smell, and interact with the artwork in main and container gallery spaces. By doing so, the gallery takes art off museum pedestals and returns it where it belongs — in our daily lives.
Continuing its public-engaging tradition, the curators have prepared a colorful feast for the eyes as one thousand colorful insects in different shapes and sizes take over the interior walls this September.
Created by Marika Arellano Christofides, Colony is a site-responsive installation comprising over 1000 screen-printed and laser-cut insects. The artist used mid-century feminine-coded print ephemera such as greeting cards, sewing packets, and recipe books as her building blocks. We are talking ants collaged with vintage doll faces, bright orange beatles using frilly ribbons as their wings, and fireflies wearing bright yellow sleeve covers from old cookbooks.
“I attempt to transform a simplistic image of idealized femininity into something more complex, exploring ideas of identity, embodiment, and reproductive labor through a feminist lens,” said the artist.
That said, the insects at Colony won’t make you scream “gross.” Rather, they are kaleidoscopic renditions of familiar elements, giving flowers and aprons an otherworldly quality outside their original context. Essentially, these insects represent the internal colonization of non-normative feminine subjects. One may be an oddity, but a thousand make an undeniable community.
However, the best part about Colony is its family-friendly nature. While children may not grasp the interrogations the artist put forward with her practice, they regardless can appreciate colors and images. Therefore, your little ones will have a blast looking at beetles with people’s heads while you drive down memory lane with nostalgic symbols from your mom’s cookbook, your aunt’s scrapbook, or your grandma’s knitting magazines.
In short, Colony is a colorful and lively space meant for limit-free explorations and a good time with no strings attached. Walk away from your reality and teleport into an Alice-in-Wonderland type of world with zero limitations. Like the artist said:
“The girls in these valentines are liberated to join each other on the walls of the Shipping Container; while one small bug may represent an interruption in the viewer’s visual field, as a group, their playfulness and multiplicity becomes a menacing force with the power to occupy a space.”
So, grab your family and friends, walk into a shipping container full of Kafka-esque insects, and just have fun! How many faces can you count?