K-State student’s brand of art examines consumerism, luxury

By The Mercury

At first glance, Hunter Scott’s art is a lot to take in.

Scott, a non-degree-seeking graduate student at Kansas State University, creates self-portraits that use intense colors and often borrow from different art styles, such as baroque, but they also feature hundreds of pop-culture and brand references.

One of the pieces featured in his exhibit, “Pearls Before Swine,” which opened Tuesday at the Kemper Art Gallery at the K-State Student Union, shows Scott sitting with a crown of candlesticks while being covered in logos from designers such as Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton and others.

Scott said his “attraction and repulsion of luxury and decadence,” wasn’t his original inspiration for art works. Nor did he plan to do self-portraits.

“They evolved,” Scott said. “I did work with the female figure, and it evolved to make it more personal. I also never did the male form before.”

Scott said that each painting is anecdotal and draws on experiences from his life.

“I relate to what I’m investigating in my paintings,” Scott said.

Currently, he’s investigating the idea of branding and what that means to others. The idea mainly came from Scott’s upbringing in the affluent Dallas suburb of Highland Village, Texas.

“Brand expressed social status,” Scott said. “I wanted to find beauty in that, but I was also turned off at the same time.”

This idea of being pulled in by beauty, but yet repulsed by the deeper message is the main theme of Scott’s current exhibit.

“The initial reaction I want is for people to be in awe of the beauty and for it to draw them in,” Scott said. “Then I want them to find the elements and metaphors of vice.”

Scott refers to his paintings as “thought-provoking visual puzzles,” which seems appropriate. In the painting titled “Golden to Gray, Silver to Brown,” there are all sorts of different brand logos, but there are also smaller images of things such as Pokemon characters.

Another painting features Scott nude with a bag over his head, looking into a mirror, along with pop-culture items below him. At first glance, these items being grouped together might not make a lot of sense, but Scott said that the elements in every painting he creates are “pre-meditated” and are carefully calculated and are supposed to be “beautiful, yet unsettling” to the viewer.

This is Scott’s first solo exhibit since the show he did during his senior year at K-State that was part of a requirement to earn his bachelor’s degree in fine art.

Scott said he is nervous but excited to show his work.

Scott said his experience working as an art installer at the Kemper Gallery helped him get the opportunity to show his work to the board that decides what exhibits are displayed.

The future for Scott is filled with his artwork. As a non-degree-seeker, he pays for studio space at K-State and must complete and show 20 paintings in order to keep the space and stay in the two-year program.

This exhibit will include the first five, which he has been seriously working on since December. Going forward, Scott said he will have to focus on keeping himself motivated.

“I’m going to start working with small pieces, which will be a challenge,” said Scott, whose current paintings are as large as 6 feet tall and wide. “Going small will create more preciousness. I’m going to challenge myself with it.”

But one thing is for sure: Scott said he will keep the idea of his aversion to branding and beauty in his future art.

The opening reception for the exhibit is 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday.

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