James Plattner, Orion Inez Varona-Alverez, Alfonzo Huckleberry II, and Nicholas Namyar
Cincinnati is living proof that you don’t have to be in Chicago or New York to find a thriving artistic community. In fact, many of the most talented and exciting artists in the contemporary scene are living, learning, and creating in smaller – but just as passionate – cities all over the country. We are lucky to find ourselves here, in an area with not just one, but many different prestigious universities with art programs. These institutions are shaping the current generation of artists, providing them the guidance to discover their creative voice, and the community to help hone and nurture that newfound self-understanding.
Campus Creatives highlights the work being made by emerging artists from four local institutions: Mount St. Joseph University, University of Cincinnati, Miami University, and Xavier University. With this latest generation comes a shift in our local artistic community, which can only be understood by exploring the work of those whose voices are quickly moving towards the forefront. Featured in this show are artists James Plattner, Orion Inez Varona-Alverez, Alfonzo Huckleberry II, and Nicholas Namyar.
James Plattner is a painter and typographer based in Cincinnati, OH. He received his BFA from The School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. James has exhibited work in places such as the Reed Gallery and Tabula Rasa. Currently, his work focuses largely on the communicative potential of letterforms beyond the written word.
“This body of work focuses on the clash of the public and private self, and the resulting barriers to meaningful communication that arise from such a discordance. Formally, these paintings take a highly experimental approach in an effort to embrace relearning not only in theory, but in practice. A sharp contrast of rigid and fluid contours speaks to the dissonance between authentic and artificial forms of the self. Naturalistic forms such as human figures and plant life are represented in highly obscured, manipulated geometric visual styles, serving as a metaphor for learned inhibitions and departures from the true self.”
Orion Inez Varona-Alvarez is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Their work revolves around text, color, their many homes, and living beings. They are an advocate for change and a voice that creates from the head and heart. Currently, they are working towards their BFA from the college of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. In their spare time you can find them reading, making new illustrations in any coffee shop that has good chai, or enjoying a good persimmon.
Orion Inez finds much of their inspiration within color. Through Gilbert Baker’s original pride flag, they find solace in knowing pride color has meaning in tandem with the spiritual color of the Vedas (chakras). Through their spiritual practice they bring forward their artwork as a form of healing. Dealing with people in their lives, both real and fictional, the subject of their work is always physical. Inez finds intersectionality with their existence and the existence of those around them. But one form of media is not enough. In turn, they capture the physical with photography, create the physical with illustration, and give life to the physical through text.
Alfonso Huckleberry II is an experimental artist and educator in Cincinnati, Ohio. Alfonso is pursuing their bachelor’s in Art Education from Mount Saint Joseph University. He has exhibited work throughout his career in gallery exhibitions at Listerman brewery, Bogart, Rhinegeist, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, and Covington Cultural Art Center. He has also attended the Ohio Art Education Association Conference and presented lessons on Adinkra Printmaking. Their work encompasses a tradition of artmaking that continues family heritage.
“I create compositions to explore my vulnerability. When I put the viewfinder up to my eye I am opening up a world with the inevitable opening up of my internal self. Being vulnerable is difficult but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about how we feel. For years I ignored my inner self so that others didn’t have to bear the burden of my hardships. Photography has become a way for me to voice the pain and strife in ways words cannot convey. I draw inspiration from my family as they are my models and best represent my voice. They are of me as I am of them, and the pain I endure is the pain they witness me suppress. Crafting a story is the way I show my inner feelings without having to express them bluntly. Much like the chill of a winter evening, life can be harsh and that’s a beautiful thing. There’s much to learn from the snowflakes of our lives and the ice that will eventually thaw. Everything will end and begin beautifully, so enjoy the moments you experience as they occur. Life will be a lot more like a chilly winter evening.”
Nicholas Namyar is an Iranian artist and designer based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Nicholas is currently pursuing a BA in Graphic Design and Digital Innovation, Film, and Television at Xavier University. He is a McAuley Art Scholar and is the active President of the Xavier Art Society. He has had work exhibited at both the Contemporary Arts Center and the BLINK Festival of Light and Art. Much of his art is rooted in multimedia experimentation and influenced by his intersectional experience as a second-generation Iranian immigrant and his queer identity, searching for both empowerment and escapism through it.
“I continuously try to expose myself to new forms and methods of art. Screen printing has allowed me to refuel my creative energy and discover innovative solutions. My prints are fabric replications of patterned sketches. As a graphic designer, I enjoy getting the chance to immerse myself in hands-on art processes. Inspired by my Iranian culture, my first set of screen prints are inspired by patterns from traditional Persian carpets, specifically the paisley pattern. The color palette from these represents the Iranian flag with the red, green, and white, while the blue and gold hues take inspiration from ancient Iranian ceramic work. My second set of screen prints are inspired by the whimsical nature of octopus tentacles. The overlaying of prints and patterns with each piece showcases the progression of my creative thought process while creating the pieces – attempting to add complexity with each one.”
Multiple pieces in this exhibition are for sale. If you are interested in purchasing any artwork from the show, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.