Arts & Culture » Visual Art

Jean You and Allison Corona exhibit images of their past and present


At the age of 19, Boise State graphic design student and painter Jean You moved to the United States from his home country of China. Before high school, Boise State photography student Allison Corona moved from her birthplace of Los Angeles to Idaho Falls.

Though the two 20-something artists are ethnically different, they share an aspect of their lives, one they will address in an upcoming, aptly named "Living Within Two Cultures" exhibit at the Student Union Gallery.

The genesis for the dual show came from a postcard announcing that Boise State students and faculty were welcome to apply for the exhibit.

"I thought, maybe I should do one of these," You said. "I do have a body of work and living in two cultures ties to my situation."

He and Corona work together at the university, and You knew that Corona also had enough work to convey a message as well as fill an exhibition space. "Her work is amazing, and also fit into this title," You said.

Both young artists have grown up in a kind of cultural limbo. That is apparent in their work, though it's not overtly spelled out, nor is it completely subverted under layers of paint or by avant garde camera angles.

You's paintings are often figurative, with large faces as the focal points of his compositions. His palette is a combination of over-bright and muted, and pushes the viewer's eye across the canvas.

In Eternity, for example, flower-like patterns in neon pinks, purples, yellows and greens at the bottom mirror splotchy colored orange, magenta and turquoise fortune cookie shapes above. But between the ground and sky, five heads, dripping red from their necks, are suspended from an unseen source by long braids.

Corona was homesick and feeling out of place. Her mother had moved back to Mexico and her sisters were still in Idaho Falls, so she began visiting Mexican tiendas.

The stores and the people in them not only offered solace, but helped her hang on to something she felt she was losing.

"I felt like I was forgetting my culture," Corona said.

In each of these stores, Corona also found comfortable places where she could speak Spanish. In the center of each of her black-and-white photographs is the store proprietor or a store employee. Stoically, they stand amid a plethora of neatly arranged items: pinatas, tiny white confirmation dresses, rows and rows of cowboy boots and more.

With this exhibit, both You and Corona's histories become part of a larger consciousness and their work may help to promote a better understanding of how they and people just like them live in two different worlds.

Exhibit opens Thursday, Sept. 3, 5 p.m. and runs through Oct. 18. Both You and Corona are scheduled to speak. SUB Gallery, 1910 University Dr., 208-426-5800,