A Spotlight on Senior SIPs

For the next several weeks, the Arts section will feature a brief overview of the SIPs of fine arts and humanities majoring Seniors. This week we are excited to present the work of Art major Beth Ann Fogal as well as English major Harris Stevens.

 Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

This SIP season, senior visual art majors must shape an artifact out of their history, particularly from their last four years on the mountain.  For Beth Ann Fogal, this means tackling the question, “Why should we look at art that makes us ache?”

Looming in Fogal’s Jackson 106 studio hangs an eight foot canvas of cyan swells, framed by gold and melon-orange oil paint.  Superimposed onto this first layer are contours of various colors dispersed across the canvas in bold slashes, drip stains, and chain-links.  An additional layer will include geometric blocks into the mix.

“It’s meant to be overwhelming,” Fogal admits, and with its juxtaposition of contrasting colors, can perhaps appear a little chaotic.  “I want to use color to unsettle the viewer.”   

In her past four years at Covenant, Fogal has wrestled with the idea of how to “cope with the craziness and sin” we confront in our daily lives.  She claims that reckoning with the world’s fallacies is certainly not comfortable but is conducive to developing a passion for repair, whether that be through rallying for international justice or mending personal relationships.

For Fogal, this truth was best embodied by the image of ocean breakers.  During her trip last summer to the west coast of California, the artist was awed by the dual nature of the waves, their pulverizing power and constant order.  To her, it represented “a rupture,” adding, “that’s how we grow.”

“That’s how this palette was born,” Fogal elaborates.

After constructing the panel and spreading the turpentine, Fogal spent an hour and a half filling in the background with broad strokes and then scattering the second layer’s patches of texture.  Though her work is unfinished at this point, it’s already apparent that facing the images that provoke brokenness can still, in her words, “be a beautiful thing.”

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When Harris Stevens’s SIP advisor, Dr. Gwen Macallister exclaimed, “Research something you love!” it was not a difficult decision for the English major and Student Body President to select Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell’s cerebral novel and inspiration for the 2012 blockbuster film.  In his research paper, Stevens plans to examine Mitchell’s fiction as the archetype of a burgeoning literary movement known as renewalism.

“Renewalism, sometimes called neorealism or dirty realism, developed after the postmodern age,” explained Stevens. “While it agreed with some of the postmodern ideals, it also pushed back on deconstructivism.”           

“It appeals to me as a Christian,” he said, about renewalism’s stance on moral absolutes and human attributes that transcend history and geography.  He also hopes that more evangelical authors will find that it resonates with their worldview, claiming that renewalist writing is “right for Christians to be involved in.”

It was while reading the book review of another renewalist author that Stevens uncovered Mitchell’s connection to the movement.  After pursuing the topic further, Stevens discovered the renewalist themes Mitchell draws upon in Cloud Atlas as he strings together six wildly varied plots (ranging from the story of a 19th century American in the South Pacific to a clone in dystopian Korea) by establishing, as Stevens puts it, “a universal human identity.”  This tie is reinforced by “certain human qualities and virtues, such as freedom and the consistency of beauty over time,” as well as the novel’s cyclic narrative.

Stevens’s 20 to 25 page research paper is not due until the end of April, but he says his work has already “broadened my view of contemporary literature” and will aid him in his future goals to enter an English graduate program or career in publication.