Katie Doolittle – Staff Writer
The Junior Art Exhibition titled Everything and the Kitchen Sink recently opened with their public reception taking place on Monday, April 24th, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Schaefer Fine Arts Center, but the exhibit is open for public viewing until May 17th. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The artworks in the gallery feature pieces created by Junior Studio Art Majors that are part of the ART-299 Junior Seminar and their two-year capstone experience. All of the participating students are Alexis Concepcion, MacKenzie Groth, Anna Pozdnyakov, Mariana Rodriguez-Guzman, Mya Santelman, Abigail Willis, and Jada Zevenbergen.
Priscilla Briggs, a professor in Art and Art History as well as Film and Media Studies, and Nicolas Darcourt, an assistant professor and Studio and Visual Arts Programs Manager in Art and Art History, work directly with these students and aid them throughout the exhibition experience.
“The Junior Seminar course assignments are designed to lead students through the process of developing a conceptual foundation and methodology for their individual creative processes. They begin by making 10 small or quick works or sketches from which they choose one to build into a larger, more extensive project,” Briggs said.
While they are designing and working on their projects, they are also putting those designs into words. “During the process of making work, the students concurrently work on writing their artist statements. Writing about the work helps the artist organize their thoughts, refine their vocabulary and their own understanding of the work, and figure out how to translate their visual ideas into words,” Briggs explained.
Even though Briggs has been through this process with previous Studio Art majors, she still beams at her students’ work. “As a professor, it is very satisfying to see students discover things in their own process of making and to begin to recognize what engages them in a sustained way as an artist,” Briggs stated.
One part of the preparation process is deciding the name of the exhibit and the design of its marketing materials. The title Everything and the Kitchen Sink was chosen because it fully embodied the different pieces being displayed.
“The idea came to us one day after class, we were brainstorming ideas for the title. We couldn’t think of any because our artwork is quite different from each other. We started making a list of the artwork we each had: heels, flower painting, octopuses, doodles, whales, a doll bust… and we had everything but the sink. But it was more fun to call it Everything AND the Kitchen sink. After choosing the title we actually got the sink which we signed,” Junior Mariana Rodriguez-Guzman stated.
Through their work and effort, this group of juniors believes that this project is a great preparation for their work outside of the Gustavus campus. “I think that an exhibition like this prepares us for our soon-to-be future and gives us a peek into the world that we are about to enter. The planning that goes into an exhibition like this is very extensive and tedious and having it as a class really helps me feel prepared for future exhibitions,” Junior Anna Pozdnyakov said.
“This exhibition is so much bigger than a final project. The pieces that we are exhibiting are a culmination of work produced over the past 9 to 12 months, which have required untold hours of work and into which we have all poured our hearts and souls,” Junior Abigail Willis added.
“I am always so impressed by our young artists and the courage they show in making works of substance, experimenting with new materials and processes, and challenging themselves to grow. It is immensely satisfying as a professor to witness their growth and success,” Briggs stated.
While all the work that is displayed in the gallery is beloved by this group of students and their mentors, there are some pieces that are the ultimate favorites of these artists. “I am proud of most of my work, but mainly the Nichos, because I had never worked with cans before and the concept is about a topic that is quite delicate, but important to me, which is feminism and the victims of femicide in Mexico,” Rodriguez-Guzman said.
“I love all of my pieces dearly but the one I am most proud of is the diptych ‘Surviving, but thriving’ as it is a piece that most represents me in this time and space and what I have been working through to make the piece” Pozdnyakov stated.
“I am so happy with how my butterfly sculpture turned out. This piece required lots of participation as I asked people from my community here at Gustavus, and at home in Southern California, to write notes which I, in turn, folded into butterflies to be assembled into this large-scale installation piece. So to see it finally all come together, in its final form, was so rewarding and exciting,” Willis explained.
The gallery is a positive way to see and support the work of the Gustavus Studio Art majors. “The Junior and Senior Exhibitions are a great opportunity to experience the best work our students make and to support them in their process of becoming mature artists,” Briggs stated.
To further support these artists, the pieces on display are available for purchase.