Last Wednesday night, friends, family, students, and professors gathered in the top floor of the library to spend time celebrating the work of the graduating art majors. This show was the result of hours upon hours of studio classes, critiques, and late nights. The works were a collection of photographs, paintings, mixed media pieces, ceramic pieces, prints, drawings, kimonos, posters, etc. that we have made from as early as freshman year.
The difference between this show and others you may have seen is that this show is a collection of works that are a culmination of varying levels of thought and meaning. While we are proud of these pieces, not all accurately reflect who we are as artists, or simply aren’t enough to explain what we have been doing the last three years.
The other purpose of this show was to take a breath and step back for a minute, to recognize our accomplishments before we dive into the most momentous task yet. The Senior Exhibition Show is merely laying the groundwork for the Spring, when all of the seniors will create something for their Senior Integration Project (SIP).
Personally, as a senior who is only in their second year as an official art major, I have struggled with feeling inadequately prepared for creating my SIP. I have not had the end-goal in mind since my freshman year. Though I have taken more studios than the average art major, part of being in the art department is not about just making and creating, but about shaping your mind as an artist and training yourself to see and view things with an art historical perspective. Some of the pieces currently in the gallery and the lobby of the new art facility reflect this art historical perspective more than others. Yet, I would like to argue that nothing we create is without previous influence, even if we are not conscious of that influence.
Some of us seniors have been creating almost our whole lives, while others are newer to these practices. If you feel lost while viewing this show, know that you are not the only one feeling this lack of a connecting theme or overarching unity among the pieces. Quite frankly, this show is less about specific pieces and more about the artists who made them.
I encourage you to seek the artists in the show out. Ask us why we made what we made (even if we’re not sure ourselves). Look and spend time with our work simply because it is a good practice. While studying for finals, take a break with a friend and spend ten minutes in the gallery asking each other questions about what you see.
The gallery will open again in January with the SIPs of three seniors who will graduate this semester. What is displayed next semester will be different from what you see in the gallery right now, and I believe that is an important distinction to note.
For an art major, the SIP process is a difficult one. It is the result of a mixture of ideas that must be put into a tangible representation. Complications arise from lack of ability to execute, difficulty of material to work with, limit of time, or even lack of funding. If you have thought you would rather create something “fun” than have to write a 45-page paper for your SIP, know that what you see is the result of months of process and practice, critique and conversation, formulation and failure. Our SIPs are not simply things we’ve created, but the result of working out in our minds what it means to create and to create well.
After spring break, there will be a series of shows from the seniors graduating this coming May. As one of those seniors, I look forward to what I will be able to put in the gallery because this will be something I have conceptualized from my own mind.
I firmly believe art is important and worth talking about because it actively pushes at us. I hope that even if you disagree with the views being pushed at you, you can understand the importance of being pushed to see our world differently.