The artwork is displayed on clean white walls, six pieces and countless hours of work. The artist, Stephen Yoon, sits in the small gallery, his work under soft spotlights behind him. He won’t let it show, but his eyes light up a little every time someone wanders into the gallery, portraying his excitement. Yoon, a senior art major, watches quietly as people come in to see his exhibit, titled “Worthless Salon.”
He says there are a lot of stereotypes surrounding art but Yoon himself is anything but stereotypical. He doesn’t like to waste his breath, so he only talks when he wants to. He estimates that he goes to In-N-Out four times per week, and his long legs launch him to six feet and two inches. He only shops online and says he prefers hard cash to gifts. To advertise for his art gallery, Yoon posted a video to his Instagram account, documenting his dance routine to the song “Thotiana.”
This isn’t the only unique approach that Yoon employed in the weeks-long process of producing his gallery show.
“The overarching theme is American perception. It’s a series of comments on how Americans perceive certain topics in American society,” Yoon said. “Comic books, magazines, publications, that’s how I learned. Art history went over my head. So, it was to meld those ideas, using the context of art history, to relate to the human condition.”
He designed the pieces under the impression that most people believe art can be something very specific or anything at all. In his opinion, it’s much more complex than that. For Yoon, his senior art exhibition was an opportunity to not only expand people’s concept of art but for them to delve into his own mind as well.
“I don’t want them to change their mind, to feel like I’m preaching. I just want them to be aware of how I think. It’s more of an introspection of visual language. It’s something you can’t tell someone,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve had any intentional meaning attached to my work.”
A few more visitors trickle into the gallery, looking at the illustrated results of an artistic mind. He wonders what they think about it. Perhaps they see pictures in a small square room, or perhaps they see his complex mind, portrayed in ink on paper, hung on a clean white wall.