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A spirit that is not afraid

Video games and art collide in new Biggin exhibit

Challenging the stereotype of video games’ unrealistic nature, artist Michael Menchaca explored themes they share with history to debunk this fallacy through his production of a thoughtful and progressive collection.

Featured in the Biggin Gallery and presented through the department of art and art history, Menchaca’s exhibit  “Exegesis” has officially opened. Filled with colorful, humorous and technologically infused pieces, Menchaca illustrates an intriguing artistic direction. 

Continuing until Nov. 3, the exhibit combines themes found through video games with personal experiences, the history of the past and current events. Sparking conversation through each piece’s ambiguity and meaning, Menchaca illustrates the power of art to communicate and have an impact on its viewers.

At the opening of the exhibition, Menchaca said his interest in video games became a basis of his artwork during his undergraduate years at Texas State University and graduate work at the Rhode Island School of Design where he studied print-making. Menchaca was drawn to the patterns in the background of video games, emotions depicted by characters and the use of repetition and space. He then related the patterns presented through this form of media to his Mexican-American heritage. 

“I wanted to write stories based on my origin,” Menchaca said. “The amount of activity shown through video games gives potential to tell these stories.” 

With every story comes the characters, he said. His first was a cat and was initially meant to be a representation of himself. He said he later expanded his repertoire to a variety of characters to include other personalities.

One noticeable characteristic of the exhibit is the color and rare combination of themes and materials. 

“I pull from a lot of different aspects of art,” Menchaca said. “I currently find myself negotiating between animation, video games and the print making world.”

Menchaca challenges a more traditional mindset through his use of images, themes and humor, working to have a greater affect on viewers that goes beyond their visit to a gallery. His use of humor is the entertainment aspect of his work, creating more of an experience. 

“Humor can be used as a kind of 'Trojan horse' to open debate and have conversations with one another,” Menchaca said. 

He said he tries to demonstrate how mixed emotions when viewing art is a positive, and it allows him to get through to the viewer to challenge them to think further. He also touched on how the ability to confuse people through his art offers more opportunity for discussion. Working with universal themes, Menchaca said he has connected a “virtual reality” with his own in addition to generational themes and events.

Infusing perspective from the 80s, 90s and today, “Exegesis” connects the past with the present in an intriguing and entertaining way.

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