Maria Calderon, a local artist of Peruvian ancestry, has created a visually stimulating, immersive gallery experience at the Mattie Rhodes Gallery in the Kansas City Crossroads District. Calderon’s pastel portraits, in which the subjects sit in a whirling vortex of lines and colors, gazing at the viewer with a meditative expression, are captivating expressions of both the seen and unseen aspects of humanity.
These images are captivating in and of themselves, but Calderon has set up the exhibit in such a way that the viewer is invited to commune with them. She created a pathway for viewers to follow out of beautifully patterned materials. These paths lead to viewing stations in front of each portrait, platforms where the viewer can sit level with the image and let the images soak into their eyes. This video from the opening ceremony shows the pathways: Maria Calderon – The Power of Intention from Maria Calderon on Vimeo.
The use of pattern and color in the pathway material creates a dynamic feel of movement throughout the exhibit, even when one is standing still. It also contributes to the meditative experience, making each step a thoughtful motion. The patterns surrounding and accenting the portraits evoke the spirit of the figures, their dynamic motion a striking counterpart to the physical passivity of the subjects. You can get lost in Calderon’s images, moving your focus from the intimate gazes of the portraits to the swirling patterns and back again. I love the intimacy and dreamy introspection encouraged by this exhibit.