‘Sport death, only life can kill you’
Documenting the creative history of a dissolved culture
Murals of Senior Haus
Senior Haus residents
April 21—May 7
“Find where you thrive.”
These Alice-in-Wonderland-esque words welcome you into an exhibit that you know will not be your typical art exhibit. It doesn’t help that the Senior Haus skull stares excruciatingly at entering passersby, ripping apart the top of its head to reveal a vibrantly colored brain.
Immediately walking in, we’re confronted with a plaque that describes the contents of the exhibit, noting how Senior Haus “emphasizes an attitude of radical acceptance and openness towards the strange and allowing the unfamiliar to become familiar.” Senior Haus was also famously known for its inclusivity and housed a variety of creative minds before being closed to undergraduates last summer.
There are remnants of Senior Haus everywhere, from floor plans to written memoirs, prose, and informative passages describing the dorm’s former culture and residents. Although, of course, the most striking thing is the artwork on display. The most prominent, repeated motif is the “sport death” skull, Senior Haus’s infamous logo, based off of the Hunter S. Thompson novel Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72.
Among the dramatic variety of styles and subjects is a distinct set of themes and influences. The contrasting flamboyant brights and muted darks expressed and revealed the unfiltered hearts and minds of Senior Haus. Within the exhibit, we find a variety of subjects such as album covers, famous works like Klimt’s The Kiss, and a terrifying absurdist rendition of Alice from Alice in Wonderland.
Another common subject throughout the exhibit is reminiscent of Dan LuVisi’s POPPED CULTURE series, where well-known characters in mainstream media take on a twisted perspective. The aforementioned Alice rendition is an example of this, as is the infamous Pokémon orgy mural, which, when we chanced upon it, we quickly went through the humorous progression of “Aw, that’s cute!” to “Wait, what’re they doing?” to “Umm… ”
A more admirable aspect of the exhibit is seeing how some of the pieces bear the artist’s personality and outlook for all to see. There are art pieces that reveal a sense of humor, such as the photo of a wooden door spray painted with “ERROR 404: ROOM NOT FOUND” or another photo depicting a trash can with a billowing flame painted on the wall directly behind it. Meanwhile, other pieces are more in line with the idea of acceptance and inclusivity, such as the “not gay as in happy/but queer as in fuck you” mural.
We wish that each piece was credited so that we could truly associate each and every art piece with the individual who created them, but just having all these pieces on display is a nice show of solidarity. It displays Senior Haus’s unapologetic voice. They could truly express themselves in their art without fear of judgment, and that’s a part of what makes these works of art truly beautiful.
Here’s to a wonderfully creative and accepting culture which met such an unfortunate end.