Sticky Sweet: Attraction & Anxiety

August 23, 2021 - September 9, 2021
Mānoa Campus, Art Building, Commons Gallery

"STICKY SWEET: ATTRACTION & ANXIETY" features recent work by Kelly Ciurej, Sally French, Megumi Harada, Katherine Love, Kirsten Rae Simonsen

August 23 – September 9, 2021 Commons Gallery, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM), Art Building

(info is subject to change)

Events & Programs (TBA; events are free and open to the public)

The Commons Gallery, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM), is pleased to present "Sticky Sweet: Attraction & Anxiety."

The artists in "Sticky Sweet: Attraction and Anxiety" use familiar imagery and materials associated with domesticity, comfort, or nostalgia, to challenge expectations of traditional gender and societal roles. Their work draws on personal history, and is often deceptively cheerful, or even seductive, revealing a psychological tension between attraction, artifice, and disgust. In paintings, photographs, fiber, and works on paper, the sentimental sweetness of childhood desire becomes cloying and unsettling. By reexamining and subverting the familiar and the romanticized, these artists reflect an anxious unease.

Although from different generations and inspired by a range of artistic influences from Japanese youth culture, to West Coast pop, surrealism, to abstract expressionism, these five artists share a willingness to critique and subvert expectations of femininity, domesticity, consumer culture, and acceptable behavior and norms. They all share a playful approach in their choice of imagery often related to childhood, in their material application of loosely applied paint or soft or shiny surfaces, as well as in their use of an intense color palette. However, careful attention to the psychological impact of their subject matter creates a tension between a deceptive lightheartedness and a layered complexity; the work is sticky—difficult to pin down and interpret in a conventional way. Roles and parameters of gender-constructed behavior are challenged, as are the borders of childhood innocence, memory, and adult experience. When does a child become an adult? When in adult life does childhood trauma enact its subtle revenge? These five artists consciously pull away from expected reactions and behaviors, and new, contemporary narratives are born.

Curated by Kirsten Rae Simonsen, "Sticky Sweet: Attraction and Anxiety" brings together artists who share a connection to the Department of Art and Art History, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. All have received degrees, lectured, taught, or served as artists in residence at the University.

Viewable from outside the Commons Gallery.

Image: Kelly Ciurej, "Unbelievably Juicy," 2021, archival inkjet print, 20" x 30" (detail)

Closed Fridays & Saturdays; Sept. 6, Labor Day

Ticket Information
Exhibition is viewable from outside.

Event Sponsor
Art & Art History, Mānoa Campus

More Information
Sharon Tasaka, 808-956-8364,,

Share by email