“Folly” combines architecture and color in cultural display
Students and faculty flocked to Wilhelmina’s Grove this past week to witness the grand opening of Cuban American artist Jorge Pardo’s newest piece, “Folly.”
Externally, the structure resembles a small, somewhat unremarkable house. But inside, viewers are treated to a colorful extravaganza.
The deceptively simple wooden structure hides an intricate collection of dazzling chandeliers and color-splashed panels. Jorge Pardo says that he designed the piece so that the house would serve as a “facade,” hiding the more prominent work inside.
“The building is really a frame for the pictures,” Pardo said. “The pictures are subordinate to the architecture.”
The inside of the structure has a strikingly open feel, despite mainly being closed to the outside. Floor-to-ceiling windows on either side cast light on walls lined with handpainted panels, creating an effect that makes the colors pop dramatically.
Said panels were handpainted by a team in Pardo’s studio in Mexico, whereas the house itself was fabricated in Italy. “Folly” was commissioned as part of UH Public Art’s effort to highlight unique artists and took nearly four years to complete due to various delays.
“We’re looking to fill the grove with artists looking to expand their work into the public sphere,” said chief curator of UH Public Art Maria Gaztambide. “These artists do work that’s so different and don’t often have the chance to complete something so monumental.”
Outside the structure, students were treated to fresh tacos and light refreshments. Soft Latin music wafted over the crowd as they chittered excitedly about the art piece.
“I just felt in awe when I walked in; I was so inspired by it,” said arts leadership student Chelsea Whittington.
Others were struck by how impactful the vibrant colors of the piece were.
“I felt so colorful, so happy, as soon as I was inside the piece, I was just blown away,” said arts leadership master’s student Deepanshi Nega.
For some students, their feelings on the piece resonated deeper than just surface level. Political science junior and SGA representative on the UH Public Arts committee, Victor Castro, spoke about how the artist’s background resonated deeply with his own.
“He’s a Cuban immigrant, the first in his family to go to college,” Castro said. “I resonate with the piece because I’m also Hispanic and a first-generation student. There’s a piece standing proudly in the middle of campus made by someone that looks like me.”
Pardo’s piece will be on display throughout 2023 and open to the public daily between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. As for Pardo himself, he hopes that this will be a way to expose students to art and that everyone will come away from the piece with something different.
“The idea of a folly is that it’s supposed to be open-ended,” Pardo said. “It could mean anything to anyone. Most importantly, I invite people to come and spend time here. Let the work consume you.”