The Emotional Show


Oct. 7, 2023 - Oct. 7, 2024, 10am to 5pm
Show Recurring Dates

Office/Remote Location

East Gallery and Work Shop Gallery
A painting of two women leaning against one another for emotional support as they sit together in a chair in front of a curtain decorated with teardrops. The brushstrokes are quick and expressive, as if the artist has sketched the scene from life.

Sara Jean Odam, Good Grief | Ally and Ruthanne, 2023, Oil on paper. Courtesy of the artist.


The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art is pleased to present The Emotional Show, an exhibition that explores some of the techniques artists have used to grapple with the demanding and amorphous territory of human emotions. By representing emotions as a complex array of phenomena, The Emotional Show pays homage to these sensations that drive our actions and give shape to our lives.

The act of making an artwork around an emotion puts the artist in the position of both a “feeler” and an observer, one who finds an emotion through which the emotion can be framed. The Emotional Show encompasses a variety of such framings. Christine Sun Kim and Thomas Mader bring a wry humor to their observations of human behavior under pressure in their performance video, “Classified Digits.” Keith Magruder’s paper installation, “Get Home Safe,” casts a warm brightness over the complicated feelings of comfort and vulnerability he experienced as a child in the 1980s and ‘90s. “When you grow up in a family with a long legacy of military [service] … you learn quickly that not everyone gets home safe,” he says. Martin Kreloff invokes fear, domination, and alarm, but turns them into a luscious guilty thrill by channeling them through two histrionic pop culture figures: Joan Crawford and the Evil Queen from Walt Disney’s animated Snow White.

The artists ask questions about emotions. How consciously do we choose the paths that lead to them? Can they be both personal and communal? Can cause and effect be tracked? What do we look like to other people when we experience them? Miguel Rodriguez tackles the last question with a series of expressive figurative ceramics. Other artists, such as Sara Jean Odam and John McVay, work to lend visual form to their impalpable interior sensations, the aspects of emotion that no one else can see. Are there objects that suggest emotions without any further commentary—maybe Joan Linder’s meticulous replicas of tissue boxes?

Visitors are given space to meditate on emotions of their own as they view one of Tamar Ettun’s color-rich inflatable sculptures (previously seen in the artist’s joyful 2018 solo exhibition, Jubilation Inflation), and consider the iconic commercialisation of happiness represented by a select curation of buttons assembled from the collection of The Smile Face Museum.

Emotions lie at the heart of what artists do and they are not often the focus of exhibitions. But as Audre Lorde writes: “Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” And as Mary Oliver urges: “If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don't hesitate. Give in to it. … Joy is not made to be a crumb.”

The Emotional Show includes artworks from the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art’s permanent collection, along with works on loan from local, national, and international artists. It features art by Gabriel Barcia-Colombo, Daniel Bodner, Tanny Chang, Tamar Ettun, Ali Fathollahi, Liana Finck, Jenna Gribbon, Dan45 Hernandez, Q’shaundra James, Darren Johnson, Lel Kihm, Eri King, Christine Sun Kim and Thomas Mader, Branden Koch, Martin Kreloff, Wendy Kveck, Jason Lazarus, Joan Linder, Keith Magruder, John McVay, groana melendez, Quindo Miller, Sara Jean Odam, Néstor Pérez-Molière, Edward Renouf, Heidi Rider, Miguel Rodriguez, Cara Romero, Lorna Simpson, Lester Sloan, Lance L. Smith, Brittany Tucker, Geovany Uranda, Jen Urso, Fulton Leroy Washington (aka MR. WASH), Megan Whitmarsh, Mikayla Whitmore, Thomas Ray Willis, Yek, Brian Zimmerman, and The Smile Face Museum.

The Emotional Show will be on view at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at UNLV from August 28, 2023, with an opening reception on the evening of September 1. Entry to the Museum is free. Masks are recommended.

All of the Museum’s galleries are accessible to wheelchair users and other visitors who cannot use stairs. Services such as sign language interpretation can be arranged. Please call the museum at 702-895-3381 to discuss your needs.

Admission Information

Open to everyone. Admission is free.

Contact Information

Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art