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Q&A: Cole Kastner previews Face in the Sun Art gallery at GSH



This week, Global Scholars Hall will host Face in the Sun: A Colorful Collection of Student Artwork. The reception will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m Thursday, Jan. 21 near the dining room at GSH. This is the grand opening of the GSH’s art gallery.

To preview the gallery, the Emerald spoke with student Cole Kastner, whose painting “Face In The Sun” inspired the gallery. The phrase “face in the sun” is about moving forward, but being blinded by an obstacle in your path. For Kastner, a digital arts major who creates abstract paintings, these obstacles are his own “distorted and demented thoughts.”

How long has art been something you’ve practiced? I’ve been drawing since I was little, but I didn’t really have the right path. I came here as a digital arts student, thinking I would just be doing logos and stuff, but I realized more and more that I didn’t want to be a part of a consumer-based world, and tricking people for money reasons. I wanted to be more of someone who pokes people at their philosophies, to open their eyes to the things around them. Anxiety is one of the biggest things I like to point out in people. Ever since I realized I didn’t want to be a part of the consumer world, I started doing ink work and abstract lines, and this kind of style.

What else inspires your work outside of your anxiety? There’s an artist named Alexander Calder; he’s a sculptor. He works a lot in how contrasts and balance work visually and aesthetically. What I’m trying to do is take my anxiety and make it balanced; I can take my own out-of-balance mind and try to make it functional for myself.

Did drawing help you get over your anxiety? It definitely allowed me to have a way to express myself when I felt anxious. [In preparing for the exhibit] it was a time when I was trying to find balance within the chaos of my head. I tried to create functionality out of the chaotic lines.

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Cole Kastner’s “Matcha,” which he said came out of a hyper-awareness of the substances, and crutches that people use to cope. While Matcha is a revered tea in Japanese culture, it’s a flavor of Starbucks Frappuccino in America. “The transition of its meaning from culture to culture is hilarious to me, so having matcha being stacked with whip cream and shared is just a fascination of mine,” said Kastner.

Is it important for you to have a place to publicly exhibit your work? Yeah. I think it’s really important because it would be nice to know that other people who are dealing with anxiety can see what they can create out of it. I think a lot of people who have anxiety feel alone, so to know that it’s out there kind of creates a community of not feeling alone. That’s one of the biggest fears that a lot of people have.

Is art a career you’d like to pursue professionally, or is it more of a creative release for you? It is something I would like to pursue, and I think I’m pursuing it well currently. I feel like I’m on a new path of realizing my own fears and realizing how people have fear, so that seems to be where I’m going with it, where I want to poke, and make it a little bit more available for people. I want to force people to open up their eyes to the validity of their own anxieties, and the validity of their own fears and know that people aren’t bad for it. I think if I spread a message like that, it would be a very positive or helpful impact on society.

Pointing Woman by Cole Kastner (ink and pencil, manipulated with photoshop) This work was at a time of anxiety when I felt kicked out into the world. I felt not heard by others, only to be heard by my own thoughts. The work is a single drawing, turned into patterns. The single drawing is in the front. The background is completely made of the first image. This creates a junkyard feel, like how i felt when I was alone in my thoughts, a junkyard of anxiety.

Pointing Woman by Cole Kastner
(ink and pencil, manipulated with photoshop)
This work was at a time of anxiety when I felt kicked out into the world. I felt not heard by others, only to be heard by my own thoughts. The work is a single drawing, turned into patterns. The single drawing is in the front. The background is completely made of the first image. This creates a junkyard feel, like how i felt when I was alone in my thoughts, a junkyard of anxiety.


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Craig Wright

Craig Wright

Craig is the senior arts and culture editor for the Emerald. He is from West Linn, Oregon, and is a senior majoring in journalism at the UO. He has made Nick Frost laugh and has been deemed to be "f---ed up in the head" by legendary thrash-metal band Slayer.