Clara Hatton Gallery’s new exhibition explores the art of sound


Collegian | Kota Babcock

The entrance to the “Affective Tone” exhibit features a counter with various pamphlets and information on the gallery and exhibit Feb. 16. The gallery has low lighting, which is used to focus on the sounds in the exhibit.

Kadyn Thorpe, Arts and Culture Reporter

Art is in the eye of the beholder — or rather, in this case, the ear. Creating art through noise is what “Affective Tone” is all about.

Denver-based artist Adán De La Garza, who is “an anonymous member of the curatorial Collective Misnomer,” according to the Colorado State University art and art history website, created an art exhibition currently being presented at the Clara Hatton Gallery on campus. In his exhibition, De La Garza uses one of our main five senses: hearing. Hearing is important in how we connect to the world, and De La Garza hopes it will help you connect to his latest exhibition.


De La Garza doesn’t take inspiration from any one person. With inspiration coming from a variety of sources, he created something completely original. This exhibition is likely to be one you have never experienced before. 

“I try to consume as much art as possible and tend not to focus exclusively on specific artists and primary sources of inspiration,” De La Garza wrote in an email to The Collegian

“Affective Tone” is a gallery exhibition that showcases the impacts of sound on the population. De La Garza combines “noise music and military-influenced sonic warfare” to express his art, according to CSU art and art history.

Sonic warfare is the use of sound to express threats or create a feeling of discomfort and fear. This weaponization of sound is something the artist hoped to bring to his audience’s attention, as it has the ability to manipulate populations. 

From now until Feb. 25, exhibitgoers can embark on a journey through sound with this display. De La Garza established a punk-ethos approach to his exhibition, which introduces a noncorporatist and nonconformity subculture. 

A dark room with white walls and cement flooring features black stereos. A green exit sign is seen peaking over the wall.
The “Affective Tone” exhibition uses large speakers to influence a visitor through harsh sounds Feb. 16. (Collegian | Kota Babcock)

De La Garza’s exhibition provides his audience with a distressing feeling when they enter. In this experience, people are met with darkness and struck with an overload of indescribable sounds, connecting the place where noise music and sonic warfare meet. 

“(‘Affective Tone’) deliberately uses noise as a preparatory measure to understand the impending infliction of sonic warfare on citizens,” De La Garza wrote.  

With the use of speakers previously used by the military, De La Garza hopes to deepen the population’s understanding of how sound can be used as a weapon. 

The brain interprets different tones in different ways. When people hear a sound like birds chirping in the morning or the crunch of a leaf on a fall day, they are met with feelings of joy and comfort. When people hear nails scratching on a chalkboard or feedback from a microphone, they cringe. 


A statue of a woman sits beside a promotional sign about the Affective Tone exhibit in the Hatton Gallery. Behind this are windows with closed blinds.
A sign outside of the Clara Hatton Gallery gives details on the exhibition and an upcoming artist talk Feb. 16. (Collegian | Kota Babcock)

The sounds you hear every day contribute to your mood and overall well-being. When experiencing this exhibition, you’re immersed in sounds that make your mind wander to far-off war zones or uncomfortable places.

De La Garza is currently teaching in the art department at Colorado State University and is a visiting artist at the Hatton Gallery. To get a better understanding of De La Garza’s vision, check out his exhibition and see for yourself how noise can be more than just sound.

This exhibition and De La Garza’s artist talk are one part of CSU’s Engaged Art Walk initiative. Additionally, they are one of many efforts from the department of art and art history to embrace diversity, equity, inclusion and justice on campus.

If you enjoy the exhibition, be sure to check out De La Garza’s website to view his other works of art that push the limits of conformity. The Clara Hatton Gallery showcases different exhibits and hosts several student workshops all year long.

Reach Kadyn Thorpe at or on Twitter @thorpekadyn.