From Nov. 15 to Dec. 10 2018, the Art Department presents the Art Minor Spotlight Exhibition in the Schaefer Gallery.
This exhibition features artworks crafted in and out of the classroom by Art Minors: Senior Biochem and Molecular Biology and Chemistry Double Major Ashley Studsdahl, Senior English Major Brenna Tuttrup, Junior Nursing Major Caden Killion, Senior Biology Major Cassaundra “Cassie” Juberien, Senior Art History Major Emma Gasterland-Gustafsson, Senior Political Science Major Emma Jones, Sophomore Classics Major Signe Jane Jeremiason, and Junior Psychological Science Major Yesenia Hidalgo.
Artwork in the exhibition spreads across a wide range of expression, mediums and subjects. The Art Minor Spotlight features pieces from ceramic, bronze, oil, acrylic on canvas, and water color, charcoal, gold leaf, colored pencil, illustration marker, and India ink on paper.
Most of the art pieces are created for class assignments and projects, with advice and supervision by professors from the Art Department. Some pieces are experiments in the artists’ free time and grow to be complete artworks. Whether they are created in a class setting or not, these artworks are drawn from the artists’ personal experience and serve as their unique self-expressions.
The exhibition occupies all three levels of the Schaefer Gallery. The first level features bronze sculptures by Killion, oil on canvas paintings by Juberien, and sgraffito on ceramics, a bronze sculture, and oil and canvas paintings by Studsdahl.
Walking into the first level of the Schaefer Gallery, visitors will notice, first and foremost, the bronze sculptures of mystic creatures popular in legendary novels and television shows: Dragon by Studsdahl, and Rising and Dragon Eggs by Killion. These sculptures are projects from bronze casting classes. Studsdahl’s Dragon recreates the shape of a tiny dragon which comes to life through sharp meticulous details. The legendary creature embraces what resembles a dragon egg as if it is protecting the egg.
Killion’s Rising takes the shape of a phoenix which has continuously been Killion’s longtime inspiration. “I just started to sculpt [the phoenix] from what was in my head, and that’s what was created. I am currently in bronze casting for the semester andI have done several other sculptures with the subject being a phoenix. So hopefullythere will be another show that I can put those in because I personally think that I havegotten better at it and have further developed the form,” Killion said.
The Junior Nursing Major has devoted time and effort to practice and improve his artistic expressions. Fans of the TV series Game of Thrones would find Killion’s Dragon Egg most fascinating. These eggs are inspired by the ones that frequently appear on the TV show, according to Killion.
“To make the dragon eggs I was inspired by Game of Thrones. I was taking abronze casting J-term and decided that I would try and make my own dragon eggs… My favorite piece in the exhibit would probably be the Dragon Eggs because I think they turned out the best for being my second project in bronze.
They are also just a more unique piece because they are bronze and if you watch Game of Thrones that just makes them that much more interesting,” Killion said.
Directly referring to pop culture, his sculpture must appeal to most young people, especially those who watch Game of Thrones.
Displayed next to the Dragon is the Nature series by Studsdahl, a collection of ceramic sculptures on which the senior performed sgraffito. She said: “the Nature series was made using a technique called sgraffito. The technique is something that I really enjoy as it involves covering the whole work in a color and then etching out a pattern or design. The process allowed me to just focus on the work that I was creating, which is why I believe that it would be my favorite work as it had all of my attention when I was creating it.”
Besides her sculptures, Studsdalh also has two of her oil on canvas paintings displayed on the first level of the Gallery: From the Ashes Start of Creation. From the Ashes portrays a powerful source of energy rising from a sea of fire or lava. This rising entity resembles a human body in some aspect, from shape to shade, and it is contrastingly peaceful and tranquil, as opposed to the raging bed of flames.
“I hoped to show a sense of calm within a storm, that even in the turmoil and chaos of life there can still be a sense of peace. When I was working on “From the Ashes” and “Start of Creation” I was having health problems but was still pushing through for the semester, and even with the problems I still felt at peace and I feel as if those works of art hold that feeling that I had personally when I made them,” Studsdalh said.
The artist connects her own personal experience with the sublime images of nature in her artistic expression.
Other oil on canvas paintings on the first level of Schaefer are by Senior Juberien: Midnight Chaos and Water Painted Memories. She said: “Midnight Chaos is inspired by a text written about the creation of earth and painted mostly with a pallet knife.
Water Painted memories is inspired by the lake view at my cabin and painting styles from Vincent Van Gogh; it’s painted mostly with a pallet knife and some brush for the finer details.”
These two paintings are her favorite pieces to feature in this exhibit. While Midnight Chaos appeals more through the color and visual aspect, Water Painted Memories carries Juberien’s sentiments.
Occupying the most part of the wall on the second level is the self-portrait titled “Sum Aurea Lux” by Sophomore Classics Major Signe Jane. The title means “I’m Golden Light” in Latin.
“It’s the first portrait I’ve done of myself with no hair. I’ve had alopecia my whole life and when I finally shaved off the rest of my hair, it was a very liberating experience. At this point where I am okay with going bareheaded without wigs or anything, it’s just been a big journey for me. It’s also very liberating to be able express that in my self-portrait,” Signe Jane said.
Signe Jane used mainly charcoal for this self-portrait as she considers it a special material which is “fun to play with.” In other words, it allows her to customize her expressions in various ways while requiring her to be careful. The artist marks the portrait with gold leaf, constituting a sprinkled array of golden light. Portraying herself with arrays of golden light has marked Signe Jane’s growth in self-acceptance, self-care, and self-liberation.
Surrounding Signe Jane’s self-portrait are her watercolor paintings on paper: Mourning Dove Feather and Downy Woodpecker Feather. These pieces resemble the actual shapes and sizes of real feathers.
They highlight Signe Jane’s intense attention to details and her ability to copy real objects on paper. Choosing watercolor, Signe Jane challenged herself to meticulously craft these pieces, since watercolor are very difficult to fix.
Next to Signe Jane’s work is Senior Emma Gasterland-Gustafsson’s watercolor on paper paintings: Untitiled Blue and Untitiled Red. She shared: “The inspiration came from going through old notebooks, I found two sketches of friends that I had done last year when I asked people to pose for me, and I ended up really loving them and wanted to work on them more so that they didn’t have to end as sketches. My favorite part was making the outlines! Seeing how my sketches became complete and recognizable figures! I really like Untitled blue, there’s a tenderness and warmth to it that I enjoy, I also love the shadows.”
The two paintings play with tender colors and explore the human form. Gasterland-Gustafsson said: “ [The paintings convey] tranquility. Nudity is a very comfortable state of being and I hoped to make something that could be viewed as solitary and calm pieces of being comfortable with oneself. Because these were just sketches at first, I wanted to bring something to them that made them feel less like studies and more like final pieces.”
Like other artists in the exhibition, Gasterland-Gustafsson draws direct inspiration from her personal life and sends an empowering message through her work, a medium that expresses beyond words.
Pursuing the art minor, every artist in the collection has mixed feelings; they are initially nervous and yet increasingly proud of their work and themselves. To most of them, having their artworks on an exhibition is a special moment that marks their status as an artist.
It is a start, a basis for them to continue creating and sharing their work with others. They are not only bringing something beautiful to the world, they are communicating with the world, through art..