Unhinged Exhibition pushes boundaries through immersive art by local artists
By Janelle Fisher
The Unhinged Exhibition, a culmination of the work of more than 60 local artists representing a wide variety of art forms and mediums, is sure to be an event to remember for all who attend as the pieces of the exhibit lead attendees on a multisensory journey through the arts.
But what is the Unhinged Exhibition?
Kent Hutchison, the exhibition’s director, said the uniqueness of the Unhinged Exhibition makes that a difficult question to answer.
“The Unhinged Exhibition is hard to define, and that’s kind of intentional,” he said. “One way to describe what Unhinged is is by describing what it isn’t. It’s not a traditional gallery art show,” he said. “It’s not a traditional performance at a formal hall setting. It is a collaboration of 65 different artists to deliver a very immersive, experiential art exhibition. It’s very curated and it’s very intentional.”
Hutchison said a big part of what makes Unhinged so unique is that the variety of artists and art forms involved keep viewers on edge with anticipation of what they’ll see next. Artists featured in the exhibition span all disciplines of creative expressions — from theatrical arts, performative arts, musical arts, two-dimensional and three-dimensional visual arts, culinary arts and everything in between.
“You’re kind of experiencing the exhibition, without knowing what’s around the next corner,” he said. “And that embeds this feeling of excitement and kind of edginess that we’re trying to capture with this exhibition.”
One thing the pieces in the Unhinged Exhibition have in common, Hutchison said, is that they each create an immersive experience for the audience.
“There’s all kinds of crazy experience-based art,” he said. “So you’ll come face to face with a drag/horror/punk artist who’s doing a performative piece, then you’ll be swept up in a modern twist on traditional pointe ballet, and then you’ll turn around, and almost in the same instant, be involved in these visual and auditory installations that are depicting all kinds of facets of society — one of which is internalized horrors of cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s.”
Hutchison also said Unhinged has exhibits to invoke every sense — including taste.
“We’re delivering food in many different ways,” Hutchison said. “We have two different culinary artists who are going to be doing on-site culinary art demonstrations. And we’re not talking about how to cut an onion. We’re talking about smearing purees on a giant four-foot spiral graffiti table or eating off of an edible mural that you dip into sauces. It’s all these traditional ideas that are delivered in non-traditional ways.”
Return from COVID
Hutchison said the debut of Unhinged actually occurred in 2018 and was well-received, but COVID thwarted organizers’ plans to host another event in 2020.
“That’s just really too bad,” he said, “because we had a lot of momentum coming out of 2018 — it was this weird event that was well received. And now we’re kind of starting from scratch in 2022. No one understands what Unhinged is anymore.”
Although COVID threw a wrench in the Unhinged Exhibits’ plans, Hutchison said the goal of the exhibit remains the same.
“It was [started] to give the Bay Area not only a really fantastic art experience, but also to highlight the level of professional creative talent we have in this area,” he said. “So working together, all of these different disciplinary artists are in one space collaborating to provide this one event that is reflective of our creative spirit in our creative identity, and it’s really something spectacular. It’s something to celebrate.”
Hutchison said Unhinged helps to create an art-based identity for the area.
“Not all of us are into the Packers, and some of us want to be identified in a different way,” he said. “And embracing our arts and cultural identity is something that is manifested through Unhinged. We’re trying to capitalize on our arts and creative identity and celebrate it.”
Building community support for the arts
An important element of Unhinged, Hutchison said, is the way it financially supports participating artists.
“Every single artist is getting paid, and coming out of the COVID pandemic, artists were disproportionately affected by the drop in economic activity, so all of the artists that are there are benefiting financially from ticket sales and from people participating in Unhinged,” he said. “We’ve commissioned every single one of these artists to bring something new and fresh into our space, and they’re all getting compensated for it. People’s participation in Unhinged directly fills the artists’ pockets.”
Hutchison said showing support for local artists through events like Unhinged is the first step in building up and celebrating the area’s arts community.
“That has so many different rippling effects in our community, like if artists can count on their community paying them to do what they do, then they’re going to do more of it,” he said. “And then our community is going to benefit. This also comes back to our community tenfold with talented youth retention, economic development, quality of life, all these things are directly affected by our ability to fund art in our community. So that’s what Unhinged is doing. We’re funding artists and it gives back to our community.”
Hutchison said the best way to help those benefits come to fruition is to show support for the arts community by attending events like Unhinged.
“So far we’ve done pretty well this year — we’ve had some good sponsorship partners step forward and received some grants — and so the artists are going to be taken care of,” he said. “We just need Green Bay to show up. We need the Bay Area to show up and come to this event and see what we’re all about.”
The Unhinged Exhibition will be open at the Weidner Center during the evenings of October 21 and 22.
A full list of featured artists and information about tickets can be found at unhingedexhibition.com.