colors at the uva: orange and purple

colors at the uva: orange and purple

Ever since I was a child the memory of a colorful orange and red playground sticks out to me. The stomping feet of children playing tag or hide-and-go-seek with no care in the world are still vividly engrained in my mind. I can’t help but feel a joyous sensation when noticing a random playground in the wild with its vibrant and inviting colors – are we ever too old to experience the feeling of flying on a swing? As Lindsay McDonald, et al., wrote in their book titled Progress in Colour Studies: Cognition, language, and beyond, “a strong influence of experience is in line”. For me, these joyfully exhilarating colors connote the endless number of times I have played on various playgrounds with my friends. 

When walking through the CREA building up to the bathrooms, I couldn’t help but be bombarded by the vibrant oranges and violets of the CREA and ASVA pamphlets and posters. So, my little LCA mind began to analyze and wonder, “why use exactly these colors?” and “do they know about my childhood enjoyment of a colorful playground?” Precisely this egocentric thought drives this article, thus I present to you the following thesis: The use of these colors in CREA and ASVA’s advertisements have a double-sided meaning: a joyful and confident invitation to its viewers, while at the same time preserving a self-righteous and nationalistic undertone.

As a self-proclaimed pretentious humanities student, I am endlessly intrigued by art and its use in our contemporary society. Yet, with collectives attached to institutions such as UvA, the connotations which could be derived from such positivistic posters are bound to make people wonder about the nationalistic alternate intentions of the makers – just look at UvA’s newsletters, attaching images of smiling students, who, thanks to the yellow roses handed out on campus, are no longer depressed. For ASVA, who proclaim themselves representatives of “the interests of students in both UvA and AUAS” (ASVA, 2022), it is important that students are caught by their advertisements and brochures. Hence, the bright, almost neon-like orange, as the most eye-catching choice.

After researching numerous papers and articles on color utilization I have come to realize that orange and violet exemplify an essence of confidence and comfortability. The spectator is meant to feel invited by the orange, providing them with a sense of warmth and courage, while the violet hints at nobility and lavishness – one is meant to feel majestic and ambitious. Ultimately, when combining the two colors, the students of UvA are indirectly influenced to notice the pamphlets – even only just through their peripheral vision. So, from a marketing perspective, these colors were a brilliant choice- I mean, I’m writing a whole article on them. 

Nevertheless, what most of us do not notice, is precisely the double-edged meaning these colors possess, specifically for a nation such as the Netherlands. I cannot help but wonder whether it paints the country, and most consequently the university, as a self-righteous and self-absorbed nationalistic organization. Let me explain. In a university that understands the importance of diversity or inclusion (at least based on its website), there are many discriminatory actions taken by associations against foreign students. Just recently, I attended a meeting to vote on the policy statement for a prominent association. Amid the discussion, a Dutch student announces their disagreement with the policy statements due to, based on their perspective, the ‘alienation’ of the Dutch language- this in a room where less than a quarter of the gathered associations were fully English-speaking.

As the influence of color is connected to personal experience, when combining orange – the Dutch color, splashed on everything from football jerseys to the entire city on King’s day – and violet – in a monarchial nation – one has to wonder, how indirectly nationalistic the organizations are trying to be. A sense of joy with an underlying tone of supremacy. Ultimately, however, regardless of the undertones of the advertisements and their intentions, these colors also emanate cheer and confidence. 

So, the question is, am I reading too deep into this? Or are they hinting at a pro-nationalist, anti-migratory stance? That’s up to you to decide.