Arts & Culture

Christensen Gallery bubbles with things to say

Jacob Van Houtan, Staff Writer

The newest installation in the Christensen Center highlights an interesting artist’s exhibit. Adam White’s “Sorta Like Conversation” depicts a large oval-shaped speech bubble filled with hundreds and hundreds of smaller speech bubbles filling it to the brim. White takes work from comic books and other forms like it and creates something entirely new with it. The installation takes these comics out of context, mashing them together into a larger work that hints at stories, but doesn’t allow you to find a full narrative.

The best thing about this piece is that anyone can read a couple of the speech bubbles and try and piece something together. It would take many hours just to read each and every bubble on display. There is seemingly no consistency to how the bubbles are spaced and organized. Some are larger and some are smaller. Some are slightly covered up while some are placed directly on top of others. It brings to light how we can literally be talking over someone else and not even have it matter; there isn’t a full story to hear. There is no ending to this narrative. Walking through this exhibit is just peeking into the idea of one story, and then moving along to a completely different story merely inches away. It’s madness trying to identify what each piece could be saying. Some of the pieces are quite specific leading to more fully fleshed-out ideas. Some talk about space and aliens, so you assume the comic it is lifted from deals with these issues like a science fiction serial, but some are just random sentences or words that could be in any comic book you pull off the shelf.

I think the title hints at this idea. The installation is like conversation but not really. You can probably find some hints that there are connected ideas behind some of the speech bubbles, but looking at the whole, it’s just a large mess that doesn’t relate. That’s the brilliance of it. By not having a single story or narrative to latch onto, it makes a larger comment on our society. We live in an age where we are so saturated with words and dialogue that at some point it just becomes noise to us. This piece visualizes that idea perfectly. The next time you walk by Einstein’s, I highly recommend popping your head in and just taking a look. It’s a really great exhibit by a smart and talented artist.

This article was originally published in the Nov. 16, 2018 issue. 

Adam White’s “Sorta Like Conversation.” Photo by Jim Pfeffer.