By Diane Resende
This article is a student response to a piece at "The Art Faculty Exhibition" in Raritan Valley Community College's Art Gallery.
When visiting the Raritan Valley Community College Art Gallery, one particular piece caught my attention: “Really Close Friend of Gordon Cooper”, by Darren McManus.
The colors and context of the 20-by-16-inch painting create a bold visual and emotional impact, and encourage the viewer to wonder what Mr. Cooper, one of our pioneer astronauts, truly encountered on his missions into the unknown.
McManus chose liquid acrylic to blend the different hues of blue and magenta, which dominate the field, green, and yellow-orange. The effect is striking.
The yellow-orange star is embedded into the magenta atmosphere near the furthest planet, possibly Earth, to the upper right, giving the illusion of great distance. The green “friend” appears to be standing on another planet (possibly the moon) in the bottom left foreground.
The harmony and contrast of these colors work with the subject of the painting. Normally we associate the galaxy with an ominous black void, bringing mystery and elements of the unknown with possible evil inhabitants.
This piece does the opposite. The darker blue flowers on the planets, some outlined in a shade of magenta matching the atmosphere, emit warmth and serenity.
With the uniting of these colors and elements, one does not get the sense of an ominous, mysterious galaxy anymore, but rather one of peace and beauty.