Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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‘I Love You. I Love You? I Love You!’ inspires introspection

Micah Sandy / The Daily Northwestern
Cortez said he wanted to explore all facets of love in the exhibit, from explorations of the meaning of “I love you” to a “Love Steroid.”

A trail of rose petals led into Norris University Center’s Dittmar Gallery Thursday night for the artist reception of Matthew Cortez’s first solo exhibition, “I Love You. I Love You? I Love You!”

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago student said he thought rose petals were a perfect introduction to the exhibition’s themes.

“Lean into the cute,” he said. “Cute can be such a powerful tool for so many other conversations.”

Alongside “cuteness,” the pieces in “I Love You. I Love You? I Love You!” explore everything from young love in “A Childhood Note” to mythological Cupid and Psyche in “Dear Cupid” and questions of conditional love in “A Harsh Reality.”

Cortez said he’s especially proud of “The I Love You Spiral,” a walkable floor installation that features the phrase “I love you” repeated in a large spiral. He applied to show his work at Dittmar partially because he knew the space could accommodate the piece, he said.

“I really wanted to engage the public,” he said. “As an artist, a big thing of what you want to do is connect with people on a multitude of levels. (I wanted) to prompt the average viewer to think more deeply about love, which I think has been successful.”

An Art Institute junior studying Art History and Theory & Criticism, Cortez created five completely new pieces for the exhibit, though he said he began the body of work almost three years ago and that he, as a “very conceptual person,” has loved art since high school.

Weinberg sophomore Katherine Mezzalingua said she stumbled onto the exhibit and appreciated how each part made her think about art and love in a different way.

“You can go to each one and nothing is even close to what the one before was like,” she said.

Adamari Yepez, a friend of Cortez’s from high school who visited the artist reception, said these themes are something Cortez has always been interested in. 

“It feels very full-circle,” Yepez said. “I’m extremely proud, and it’s definitely something that I saw him doing at some point in his life. I just wasn’t expecting it to be so soon.”

Weinberg senior Eve Downing, a student curator, said gallery employees help facilitate the artist’s vision and coordinate technical logistics and event advertising. 

The exhibit is free and open to the public everyday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will remain on display until Oct. 15. As a viewer, Downing said she finds the exhibit engaging and thought-provoking.

“It forces people to reflect on their own relationships and love in their life,” Downing said. “Something we don’t always think about enough is our relationships and how we feel and experience love and where love is in our lives.”

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