What started as a hobby for Luis Mendez ‘23 has turned into a lifelong passion.
Luis, an art major, is pushing the limits of contemporary digital media. As an artist, he combines new technology with old — for his latest project, he uses vintage televisions to display his new short film. He creates work that is abstract and visually aesthetic, and for his project, “made it with the specific intention for each person to be able to take away their own interpretation,” he said.
This is just one of the 13 art major senior Capstone projects on exhibit through April 21 in the University Art Gallery. Each student has created a collection of art in their chosen medium: drawing/painting, graphic design, photography, or ceramics/sculpture.
In an interview with the Bulldog Blog, Luis explained more about how his project came to be and his work as an artist…
Q: Why did you choose to pursue art?
A: Since I was a kid, it’s what I always knew I wanted to do [art] one way or another. Starting college, I wasn’t [going to] do art though, just because growing up first-gen Mexican your parents really push you to go into a more secure career path. It’s rooted with the best intentions, but at some point, you have [got to] decide for yourself what you really want to spend the rest of your life doing. When I go too long without creating, I physically, mentally, and emotionally don’t feel well.
Q: Can you explain what inspired you to create your senior project?
A: My senior project is an experimental short film with an original soundtrack that I produced [along with] a series of framed photographs. I wanted to do something like that because I’ve always had to work in phases between different mediums, one at a time, and doing only photography for another semester felt constraining. The idea for the actual project came last semester, I kept imagining the same image in my mind and let it grow into a full project.
Q: What is important to you about your project?
A: I made it with the specific intention for each person to be able to take away their own interpretation. My meaning doesn’t matter, the meaning will be different for everyone because it’s a personal experience. Whatever the viewer gets from it is a reflection of themselves, or of things happening in their life.
Q: Do you have a favorite artist, and do you draw inspiration from them?
A: I’m so sorry, there’s no way I could pick just one. I’m most inspired by music, whether it’s newer artists like Liv.e and Flying Lotus, or older artists like Alice Coltrane and Lonnie Liston Smith, there’s something about their music that literally transcends me into another dimension. That’s what I want to do for other people.
Q: Do you have a favorite time or place to create art?
A: I know it’s not a good habit, but usually really late at night is when I’m able to work the best. Like midnight to sunrise. I’ve tried to force myself to work earlier, because my sleep schedule gets so bad sometimes, but something about being the only person awake and everything being completely distraction free, all that energy and space is yours.
The gallery is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There will be a closing reception open to all from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on April 20. Learn more about the participating students below.
Blanca X Robles Altamirano’s (she/her) collection portrays objects as significant moments throughout her life. Born in Mexico and raised in California, Blanca embraces and honors her culture through her art. By depicting glimpses into her life, she believes viewers will reflect and create a connection between their own life story and hers.
Prairie Augustine’s (they/them) art “serves as a love letter to queer people of the past, present, and future.” Drawing inspiration from Prairie’s passions–Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy roleplay– and their identity as a queer and trans person, Prairie depicts queer people in fantastical and intimate displays, free from fear of showing their authentic selves.
Casey Holt’s (she/he/they) collection offers a tactile experience to viewers as a way to connect their experiences to Casey’s own experiences. Through exploration and by interconnecting pieces of themselves to create a cohesive self-expression, Casey creates a cohesive self expression through food.
Kim Oller (she/her) draws inspiration from her experiences and faith in the Catholic Church. It was important for her to “revitalize the concept of fresco…and bring it into a new light [she] could call her own.” Experimenting with bamboo, linen, and homemade gesso, a primer for canvas, Kim believes her art is a way to share the complexities of people’s lives and their stories.
Emma Nay (she/her) uses large 3 foot by 4 foot canvases to display her abstract expressions. Each piece invokes a different set of emotions, and, together, the pieces represent her overall mental health. Creating art helps Emma stay positive and overcome challenges life may throw her way. She also plans to become an art teacher to help future artists, just how her past art teachers helped herself.
Celia Burch’s (she/her) work offers an immersive art experience for the audience through exploration of details that may be missed without close scrutiny. These details are fun, playful messages that not only add depth to the work, but also allow the viewer to connect to the piece. Celia strives to invoke curiosity, playfulness, and new experiences with each look.
Athena C.’s (she/her) collection combines her passion for art and psychology. Her collection not only offers escapism in the magical but also the importance of self-identity. Athena’s work is adapted around Hans Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling to provide a lesson in self-love for children. She also features a college campaign focused on sex positivity and body positivity.
Francisco “Cisco” Rivas (he/him) believes “actions speak louder than words” and reflects this ideology through his art. Drawing inspiration from his hometown of Los Angeles and graffiti art taught to him by his brother, Cisco uses graphic design to showcase the diversity and various interpretations of the world around him. His art offers insight to his creative process and leaves his message to be interpreted by the audience.
Elisabeth Walther (she/her) enjoys trying and learning new skills, whether in art or hobbies. She hopes that her “love of vibrancy and authenticity, and admiration for camp and fun” is reflected in her work and creates a positive experience for viewers. Elisabeth believes art and design can help communities when approached with empathy and optimism.
Koko Furlong’s (she/her) collection of photos aims to create a narrative “where openness with one’s body is not associated with sexualization.” Playing with shadows and sharp contrasts, Koko highlights details of the human body that are often not portrayed as beautiful or even overlooked. She believes enhancing and unapologetically capturing these characteristics goes against society’s current narrative of perfect and altered bodies.
Shavase Shine (she/her) photographs people’s true feelings, not one people often put on to please others. Using creative and unexpected backgrounds in juxtaposition with emotionless subjects, Shavase strays away from what can be fake or forced happy photos often seen on social media. She also is passionate about combining her photography with fashion and street art.
Jennifer Hitchcock’s (she/her) ceramic dining set inspired by Chinese porcelain that not only aims to create conversation about cultural diversity but also as a way for Jennifer to pay homage to her culture. Upon closer inspection, Jennifer’s pieces include questions or phrases people have said to her relating to her identity.
To learn more about the senior art show and view the students’ art, click this link.