Senior SIP Series "Avoid/Confess"

The Art Department opened SIP Show no. 2, called Avoid/Confess, Wednesday, April 6, 2016, in the second floor of Kresge Memorial Library. The work of the four seniors are tied by a common theme of confession and shameful or regretful inaction. The art installations will go down on Monday morning, April 18, 2016.

Serenity Thomas, a senior art major, was wearing black that night as she socialized with guests. “I enjoy watching people watch my art,” Thomas said.

“Morty found the name for my work,” Thomas said,.  “Without Words” is an installation of forms that mimic skin and flesh that is gashed, wounded, and stitched back together. Thomas invited guests to feel and touch her artwork. Through creating these flesh-like forms that “are both attractive and repulsive,” Thomas explained that she walks “through an analogy of suffering.”

“Was there suffering in making the pieces?” I asked.

“Yes,” Thomas said immediately.

“She probably got stabbed more than I did,” said Chelsea Johnson, another senior art major presenting her work of wire sculptures.

Johnson’s hands also indicate tough work as she bended wires, mostly with ungloved hands, to create “Sunday Best,” a steel body-builder figure accompanied by a copper King Charles I costume. Her choice of material is intentional. “The steel is black and abrasive, and the copper is warm and inviting,” said Johnson. “The steel figure can wear the copper costume,” Johnson said, contrasting the masculine steel figure with the feminine-looking regalia.

Through these pieces, Johnson wants to address the worth we put on outward appearances. According to Jeff Morton, professor of art,  Johnson’s art  communicates a form of pain different from the wire-induced scratches and bruises: “the pain we feel when judged by others.”

Mary Claire Roberson’s piece brings color into the art gallery. Against the white wall is “A Longing,” twenty square tiles painted over with multiple layers of scribbled prayers, each addressing a theme or a person. A larger canvas next to the tiles represents a more periodical prayer without a theme. Roberson confesses in her blurb, “this series of paintings . . . confronts my fleeting heart.”

The black wall on the other side of the room brings a different note to a similar confession. Hannah McCoy shares through her pieces words she had kept to herself in her installment, “Did You Actually Say That?” McCoy’s work is composed of three black posters with white and grey lettering. “The transcript of my unspoken history,” as McCoy describes it, is the center of the piece. It is a stream-of-consciousness account of things she has left unsaid.

“I made sure it started with ‘I’m sorry’ and ends with ‘I still love you’” McCoy said about her list of unspoken phrases, “because they’re the most important.”

McCoy argues that while we are often confronted with how words can hurt, avoiding words can destroy, too.  McCoy invites others to write their own unspoken regrets in the black wall surrounding her artwork.

In each piece, the artists takes a topic such as prayer, confession, and suffering, and transformed them into tangible artworks that confronts the artists themselves and challenges those that sees them.