Arts & Life, Fine & Performing Arts

‘The Enchanted Borderlands’ combines Western aesthetic with whimsical fantasy

Inside the Merlino Gallery, coiled up rope and cowboy hats line the walls. The Western-themed items are juxtaposed against colorful digital illustrations depicting fantastical, other-worldly scenes painted in bright, vivid colors.

“The Enchanted Borderlands,” a student group exhibition showcasing digital illustrations and installations centered around fantasy and wild west themes, will be on display until Thursday, Feb. 27. The show was put together by pre-production majors Ricardo Corona, Ana Alvarez, Kelsey Steuernagel and Elias Rodriguez.

Pre-production, a recently added option within the illustration and animation program, focuses on visual development such as character and environment design.

“I got the idea from my former professor, Kim Dwinell,”  Corona said. “There was a room dedicated to the themes in Tarzan and Mulan that inspired me. I wanted to make a show that incorporates that idea.”

The entire gallery is tied together by an overarching story crafted by the exhibition’s collaborators.

The exhibition revolves around a story about a group of elves on a mission to find magical minerals that give them their powers.

A prominent character in the exhibition’s narrative is a sacred beast who protects the minerals. The beast, depicted as a flying being with bright green wings, is the focal point of a digital illustration by Corona titled, “The Confrontation.” Vibrant colors and a vivid expression on the beast’s face reflects the climax of the story.

“It was a lot of fun to do … it was a lot of hard work too,” Corona said. “But it was worth it in the end.”

Each member of the group created a piece that was related to the theme, but Alvarez chose to incorporate an overarching concept of feminism in her piece as well. In her digital illustration, “The Dwarven Elder,” the dwarf is depicted as a female, which Alvarez points out, is not common.

According to Alvarez, the piece aims to provide context behind the story’s central character.

“For this piece, because we were combining fantasy races, I really wanted to do something that was a bit different,” Alvarez said. “You see a lot of male dwarves. So I wanted to do something different with a female dwarf.”

Alvarez hopes to utilize her experience as a pre-production major to later work as a designer in the video game or film industries.

“I’ve always loved telling stories and building the world that those stories take place in,” Alvarez said. “Everything from characters to the landscapes, that’s always been super attractive to me to kind of introduce someone to a new world.”

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