Last Friday, Kitchen Sink, one of UChicago’s newest art organizations, broke from its tradition of hosting weekly painting sessions to present a free pop-up exhibit of student work. Focusing on the theme of mental health, Kitchen Sink partnered with Active Minds, a campus RSO that connects students with mental health resources. The one and only Mindy’s Hot Chocolate catered the event.
The four-hour exhibit was held inside The Cornell Florist at 1645 East 55th Street, a shop I’d passed by many times but never explored. Every table in Florist’s had been moved aside to make room for the event, creating plenty of space for students to peruse the art on the walls.
As someone who is not very active in the arts community, I’d never heard of Kitchen Sink before. I had no idea what to expect. Arriving at the event about two hours after it began, I was surprised by the number of people who were still in attendance.
The variety of plants positioned around the perimeter of the store provided a pleasant, forest-like backdrop for the exhibit. A few of the students had even incorporated some plants into their works, seamlessly blending content and environment.
A diverse crowd flowed through the exhibit, reflecting the equally-varied subject matter of the artworks. The pieces, gathered from 16 student artists, touched on everything from mental illness to how social media is perceived. Below each work, a small card provided context, explaining the artist’s intentions and the work’s personal significance. Although I drew my own meaning from each piece, I appreciated their insight into the creative process.
Beyond reflecting on individual works, I also found myself contemplating the role of student organizations at large. Kitchen Sink allows students from all artistic backgrounds to access the materials and spaces necessary to create whatever they want. Art on campus often leaves little room for the inexperienced to participate; most opportunities are only for those who have practiced their art before. Kitchen Sink offers a unique opportunity for students to express themselves with no further prerequisite than the simple joy of artistic expression.