Human Contact curated by Samantha Castle

Elizabeth Blau, Redlining, 2012, acrylic on canvas, Gift of the artist, Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art Collection

Audrey Barcio, Beautiful Nothing #19, 2014, polystyrene foam, hydrocal, spray paint, and faux fur, gift of the artist, Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art Collection (Photo: Mikayla Whitmore) 

Mar. 1, 2019

Human Contact 

The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art presents Human Contact, a pop-up research exhibition curated by Samantha Castle. Human Contact addresses the current conditions of environmental concern through selected artworks from the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art Collection. 

Exhibition Dates | March 8 - 16, 2019  |  UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, West Gallery

Curators Talk | Saturday, March 16, 2019,  3 pm | UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, West Gallery


There is no denying that there are many important issues that exist around the world, but the most prominent one is the natural world itself.

The ecosphere is comprised of all the natural systems that make this planet thrive. However, impending desolation is on the horizon. Some of the issues that are of major concern include the ramifications of climate change, habitat destruction, and animal extinction. Human Contact aims to confront this complex problem by bringing awareness and inducing critical thinking on how to respond to these imminent emergencies. With an extensive group effort, rehabilitation is surely possible. The following excerpt consists of three art pieces that were specifically chosen because of their resemblance to animals and the habitats they live in. My curatorial vision is to induce a new perspective emphasizing the grand scheme of these worsening conditions.

On one side, Long Distance is an abstract painting that embodies the formational process of a desert environment. In my rendition, the wide array of orange pigment exemplifies the increase of rising temperatures while the jagged blue shapes depict consequential water shortages. On the other side, Redlining displays a glacial transformation over time. It is a more realist painting for it incorporates scientific data indicated by a prominent red line. Changes occur universally and can sometimes be observed in the physical world. For instance, Lake Mead National Recreation Area includes a form of demarcation with its noticeably white ring surrounding the basin, which also implies another image of drought. Considering these notions, Long Distance and Redlining individually show the juxtaposition of the earth’s environmental extremes, while their counterpoints demonstrate that from deserts to glaciers there is not one region that is more affected by irregularities than another.

Stationed in the middle is a rock-like sculpture called Beautiful Nothing #19. In regards to the comprehensive theme, I propose that its miniature presence on the wall is representational of the diminishing resources and biodiversity remaining in the confines of all natural terrains. Next, the fur’s position smeared against the pink foundation delicately portrays the blood that is shed due to the eradication of animal species. Lastly, the fact that people instantly want to touch it represents the accountability of human contact.

Overall, joining these three pieces together and making connections between them connotes the severity and scope of environmental degradation. These horrible conditions persist because of our disregard for the repercussions of our actions. Therefore, we have the responsibility to preserve and conserve the earth we share as much as possible, for the next generation deserves to enjoy the captivating beauty it has to offer.

Audrey Barcio is an abstract artist who completed her Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her intention behind the series Beautiful Nothing is to invite the audience to decide the extent to which they speculate the meanings behind each piece in that particular moment of time. She currently resides in Chicago, Illinois, where she continues creating her artistic works.

Elizabeth Blau was born in Las Vegas, Nevada and was a former instructor at UNLV. She received her Masters of Fine Arts at the Temple University, Philadelphia. After her fellowship with the Arctic Circle Residency Program in Summer 2014, the main subject of her work became memorializing glacial transformations. She was able to accurately chart scientific data for Redlining, which belongs to her series Weathered Patterns, on her expedition at the International Territory of Svalbard from June 13th to July 1st, 2014.

Rachel Stiff received her Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona, Tucson. She grew up in Montana where she was used to wide open spaces. When she moved to Las Vegas she was inspired by desert landscapes of Red Rock Canyon. As a result, many environmental elements are featured within her abstract paintings such as Long Distance.


Samantha Castle was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. She currently attends the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and will complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in entrepreneurship and fine art in Spring 2019. Castle is concerned with animal welfare and is apprehensive about the environment they live in. This exhibition is her first curation and is a product of the research conducted during her Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art Internship.