On view: September 15 – October 21, 2017

A Curatorial Opportunity Program exhibition curated by Michael Covello Odalla and Alison Terndrup

Featuring: Alison Chen, Zhiwan Cheung, Michael Covello Odalla, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Kalup Linzy, Noelle Mason, Desiree Moore, Beth Plakidas, Elizabeth Schneider, Saya Woolfalk, and Michelada Think Tank


Color theory provides a formal set of guidelines for making and interpreting art. The interplay of paint hues on a canvas or the precise calibration of projected color in digital works can shape the mood of – and ultimately a viewer’s encounter with – a work of art. Yet our experience of color is often translated through complex, culturally and socially defined networks. How does color enable us to express our own personal and group identities within these networks? What does the popular use of artificial binaries – such as black/white or pink/blue – ultimately say about our society?

Many of the artists in this exhibition use such color “codes” to raise deeper questions regarding individual and group identities. Their work explores the connections between aesthetic accomplishment and poetic, philosophical, and political messages. Video artist Alison Chen ties color relationships to ideals of femininity, social conditioning, and idealized romance through subtle cues such as nail polish. In his video “Conversations Wit De Churen: As Da Art World Might Turn,” video and performance artist Kalup Linzy explores melodramatic storylines and humorous scenarios akin to TV soap operas. Fictional artist characters compete for opportunities, exploring and upending stereotypes regarding sexuality, race, gender, and cultural identity through costumes, music, video and sound editing, and voice dubbing.

The concept behind Color:Coded was initiated while curators Michael Covello Odalla and Alison Terndrup were studying and teaching at the University of South Florida. “As Florida continued to make national headlines with Stand Your Ground shootings, there was a decided shift in how we approached working in the classroom and the studio”, says Covello Odalla. “Color theory seemed to be the perfect area to unpack these societal concerns, because color can be measurable and formal, but clearly has powerful influence on the conceptual as well. It allowed students to burst through the studio “bubble” while still learning time-honored visual techniques.”


Michael Covello Odalla is an internationally exhibiting contemporary artist who creates paintings, works on paper, site-specific installations, videos, and audio work. Covello Odalla studied at the School of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University, receiving his BFA in 2008, and the University of South Florida, receiving his MFA in 2013. Recently, he was nominated by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for an award and exhibition, was selected for the Florida Biennial in Boca Raton, and was one of ten artists selected for the Orlando Museum of Art’s Florida Prize in Contemporary Art, as well as a Marlin and Regina Miller Fellowship recipient at Kutztown University. Covello Odalla is currently an Assistant Professor in Art at The College of New Jersey.

Alison Terndrup is a teaching fellow and graduate student in the doctoral program in the department of the History of Art and Architecture at Boston University. Her research in cross-cultural studies in Ottoman and Islamic art reflects her curatorial interest in facilitating dialogues that reach across artistic disciplines. Terndrup earned her BA and BFA at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania as a member of the Robert E. Cook Honors College. She completed her MA at the University of South Florida (USF), where she was one of the founding members of the Writing History, Art, and Theory (WHAT) student organization. Recent curatorial projects include Photographing the City at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts as well as the exhibition catalogue for Sun-Kissed at the USF Contemporary Art Museum.