Written by Josie Harlow

Photos by Josie Harlow

Crystal Bridges recently welcomed a new exhibit: Altars, Keepsakes, Squiggles, and Bows by Julia Alpert, to their Contemporary Art Gallery. This exhibit was introduced in September, and will be available until May 16, 2022. This colorful and imaginative display feels as though I was walking through a scrapbook. As soon as I stepped through the entrance, the environment shifted from the usual seriousness and put-togetherness of an art museum, to a warm welcome of whimsical shapes and colors.

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When I first got a glimpse of this exhibit, my first thought was that my younger childhood-self would have been completely mesmerized by its bright colors and playful ornaments that fill up almost every space in the room. The energy it gives off is chaotic, in a way that makes sense and is strangely familiar and inviting.

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Alpert talks about her inspiration for this work coming from her childhood memories at her grandparents houses, which were decorated with similar elaborate decorations. I experienced feelings of nostalgia and familiarity to my grandparents' house while in this exhibit, with the cat figurines, knicknacks, and detailed decorations. That itself being one of the special things about this exhibit, with the way it allows room for the viewer's imagination, personal backgrounds, and memories to step in and create a different experience for everyone. This is truly an astonishing creation for its uniqueness and its ability to create feelings of happiness, strangeness, and reminiscence all at the same time. 


You won't want to miss this exhibit at the end of your trip through Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. See it now through May 16, 2022!