As visitors enter the University Gallery, they are confronted by a wild and dynamic array of artwork. Many large, bright canvases hang on the walls; black and white portraits catch the eye; a strange and painted cardboard living room snags attention, while the smaller and intricate pieces on pedestals require further investigation. “Labyrinth,” this year’s senior student art show, is an exhibit brimming with variety and energy that can only truly be experienced in person. Despite the many differences among the works, together they create a cohesive whole, establishing a maze for attendees to explore.
Last semester, all senior studio art majors—myself included—presented their proposed capstone projects with a 10-minute slide show, a calendar of personal deadlines, and other relevant information. Throughout winter break and over the spring semester, we have been working constantly to make our proposals into a reality in time for the academic year’s final exhibition.
I knew I wanted to be a studio art major after my first-year seminar, called Brave the New World, which I took while taking Digital Imaging. In the following semester, I spent all my free time editing photos or making posters for events on campus. When designing my first book during my junior year, I fell in love with type, although it didn’t come easily for me.
Working as a studio art student is more time-consuming and intensive than many people think. The major requires foundation courses, emphasis courses, and some art history—most of these classes are three-hour-long sessions that meet twice a week. Each studio art student has at least one story of spending almost all night working in the studio. Despite my graphic design emphasis, the studio art major pushed me to try out new mediums I had never considered: woodworking, drawing, photography, and sculpture. This helped me learn new elements of design and bring those concepts back into my own work.
As part of my capstone, I designed two books, Grimms’ Fairy Tales and Wild Flowers Worth Knowing, as an exercise in lettering, book art, and patience. After spending over 50 hours on my books, I am grateful to have work that I am proud to show in the University Gallery and will be able to add to my portfolio.
Another senior, graphic design student Kate Stomber ‘19, is showcasing her talent and interest in textile design with wallpaper, fabric pattern, and digital prints she created. When I asked about how her independent work progressed this year, she said, "For the first time in two years, I got to dedicate time to things that I really wanted to work on! Seeing it hung is a great feeling, particularly because I was able to have the wallpaper function in the way it should, with my digital prints hanging on top! It was awesome to see two different areas of design I'm interested in working together. This experience has definitely helped me because I've been able to further define my own artistic style."
Many themes of the pieces in the show relate back to individual seniors and their particular background. A painter with a close connection to her Native American heritage depicts life through her eyes; another student with a passion for landscapes spent weeks creating mountain studies by analyzing their space; a book designer both wrote and designed his own book—a collection of his grandfather’s diary entries.
The gallery and the work inside of it hold a close and sentimental feeling for me and each of the other seniors. We navigated through our own “labyrinth” of finding our own art styles, mediums, and selves to the next step: graduating and moving on to the next part of our careers.