The “Great Expectations” art exhibit at GOCA caters to an array of tastes and styles.

Open space that allows thoughts to grow and intermingle with the elaborate designs and various forms of art is an experience that UCCS students must have. The new “Great Expectations” exhibit at UCCS’ GOCA downtown, as the title suggests, is something for students to look forward to.

From the moment one steps through the glass doors, one is immediately encapsulated in the first piece of art entitled “The Embers” by artist Erica Green, created in 2019 and made of knotted fiber and felt. The piece is equally messy and chaotic as it is beautiful and stringent. While it gives anxiety with its size, it also evokes the feeling of peacefulness to begin a journey through the exhibit.

“Great Expectations” is exceptional at allowing its viewers to enjoy the little things while being swept up in gigantic, elaborate and technological art works. Such “little things” referred to are the intricate pieces of watercolor paintings by Robert Martin and Sierra Montoya Barela’s acrylic paintings.

Possibly the most noticeable piece in the exhibit is the virtual reality installation that offers a different but must-have experience for everyone. The piece is a collaboration between artists Sean Winters and Kevin Sweet between 2019 and 2020, entitled “Murmur.”

Bradley Benedetti’s piece, “SAFARINON,” which he calls a “multi-species friend-group merger,” is an interesting use of multimedia. The piece, which involves viewers putting on a pair of headphones to experience video feed of an armadillo (yes, an armadillo), reinforces friendly interactions with wildlife. Viewers can enjoy an ASMR experience that is comparable to a piece of chalk lightly tapping against a chalk board. The sound is the result of movement from the armadillo and her shuffling through strips of colorful paper.

While “SAFARINON” is quite unforgettable, there is one artist who keeps challenging the mind, pulling it back to his pieces. Matte Refic works with inmates and juvenile offenders providing artistic methods and projects, teaching them in a therapeutic approach, according to the artist statement. Daisy McGowan, curator of “Great Expectations” and director of GOCA, explained his work with supermax prisoners and their involvement/inspiration for his pieces “Solitary” (2019) and “A Quiet Place” (2019).

Both pieces hold a wonderful world of stories behind the prisoners that Refic incorporated in his art. View the giant canvas tarps, and each time, something new will be noticed, a new story discovered.

Specifically, “Solitary” presents a large, left-hand palm with a dismembered finger and a gold ring separated from the finger. That single image wonders to whose story it belongs and what the story entails, whether it symbolizes a broken marriage as a result of the crimes the prisoner committed or possibly forgetting a loved one as a result of being trapped in solitary confinement.

Some images presented in Refic’s pieces are layered beneath others, ready to be explored, though some images present darker meanings than others, which are sure to glue themselves to any viewer’s thoughts. Visitors will also be excited to see Cymon Padilla’s oil paintings that combine Disney, pop culture and historical European works entitled “extreme makeover” (2019) and “terrain” (2019); UCCS graduate Deborah Schoen’s mail/social project entitled “The Deborah’s Project” (2019); Marsha Mack’s playful four pieces entitled “Strawberry Cream, I.” (2019), “Windowsill” (2019), “Strawberry Cream, II.” (2019) and “White Rabbits” (2019); and Jeff Page’s video projection that, according to the artist statement, expresses queer and DIY aesthetic, entitled “THROAT CHAQRA THERAPY” (2019).

Great Expectations has a little something for everyone. Artist talks will also take place on Feb. 7 and March 6 from 6-7 p.m.