Idiom: “an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own.”

Although the definition for idiom sounds a bit complicated, idioms are something that Americans are known for using frequently. “Costs an arm and a leg,” “cross that bridge when I get to it” and “devil’s advocate” are just a few of hundreds of idioms that are said everyday.

The over usage of idioms is what inspired senior graphic design student Michelle Benson’s art exhibit: “It is What it Isn’t.”

The interactive exhibit featured eight small and one large magnetic board. The large board in the center served as the home for hundreds of word magnets.

“The words are taken from popular idioms we use everyday,” Benson said.

“I deconstructed them into individual word magnets and provided blank metallic canvases as the framework for the viewer to create their own design solutions.”

Visitors to the exhibit were invited to create their own messages on the smaller boards using any of the magnets available.

After that, they were invited to post a photo of their work on Instagram tagging the account @_ITISWHATITISNT and using #_ITISWHATITISNT.

An unknown visitor created this poetic piece at the interactive exhibit "It is What it Isn't," last week. (Photograph by: Jordan Hensley)

An unknown visitor created this poetic piece at the interactive exhibit “It is What it Isn’t,” last week. (Photograph by Jordan Hensley)

Some of the creations were lighthearted such as, “The devil’s first love #pot,” and “Yes! Slay,” whereas some creations were more serious.

One person that visited the exhibit wrote, “When Doves Cry,” in honor of pop music legend Prince, who passed away on Thursday.

Benson also said that the exhibit explores the psychological phenomenon of semantic satiation, which is when a word or phrase is repeated so often that word temporarily loses meaning to the listener.

“I wanted to bridge the gap between graphic and design and fine art,” Benson said.

“It is What it Isn’t,” was on display from April 18-22 in the Slocumb Galleries with the reception taking place on April 22 at 5 p.m.

For those that missed the exhibit, the Instagram account is still available if you want to view some of the work that was created. You can also search for the hashtag.

“I’ve always been drawn to typography,” Benson said.

“It fascinates me the way that a single word can have varying effects on people simply because of the way it is displayed. To understand this is imperative and to be able to implement it is powerful.”