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S.A.L. Gallery: Expression of Self Destruction

By Abilio Dominguex

Staff Writer

The latest exhibit at the S.A.L. gallery in the library, “Self-Destruction,” by junior art therapy major, Ruth Mistretta, is a powerful depiction of the artist’s indulgence in negative behaviors in order to forget the outside pressures of the world.

The pieces entitled ‘Self Destruction’ shows two drawings of a figure with contrasting facial expressions. In the first picture, the model is holding a lit cigarette away from her body with a grim and distraught look on her face. In the second picture, the model’s facial expression changed to one that is happier and more at peace, as she blows out the smoke from the cigarette.

“Self-Destruction” by Ruth Mistretta

The artist created this specific piece of artwork as a way to cope with overwhelming emotions as she grew up. She began smoking at 14-years-old, and despite knowing how much smoking negatively impacts her health, she continued to do so. Smoking filled the void within her that nothing else could; it provided her serenity and enveloped her with a calm feeling that made her mind feel at ease, even if it was just for a moment. Eventually she fought against her desire to smoke and the urge to indulge in behaviors that she knew would only negatively impact her in the long run. To this day, she continues to do just that.

Mistretta’s “Yin” and junior art education major, Madelynn Ehmer’s “Yang” also grace the walls of the gallery. The duo’s work shows an intricate line that connects two brains that despite looking similar on the outside, differ greatly on the inside.

“Yin” (Left) by Ruth Mistretta; “Yang” (right) by Madelynn Ehmer

In Chinese philosophy, the principle of Yin and Yang is that all things in life have contradictory opposites that cannot exist without the other. Yin is dark, and is associated with negativity and femininity. Yang is the opposite, it represents light, and is associated with positivity and masculinity.

The artwork shows one brain filled with bright colors and objects that instill human beings with feelings of joy such as a cute kitten, sweet drinks and treats such as coffee and cookies, and holidays that are meant to bring families together as exemplified by the skeleton wearing flowers which is a clear depiction of Day of the Dead.

The second brain is associated with darker colors and makes the audience wonder more about the artist who created the piece. It is evident that although the artist has essential components of life within her drawing such as water and the moon, she is still on a path to figuring out what truly makes her happy.

The line that connects both of these brains represents how despite their differences, the authors have a shared love of artwork and creative expression which may not make them so different from one another after all.

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