Students share inspiration behind their art exhibition pieces

A&E, News

Students have disclosed their creative process behind artwork they have featured in the student art exhibition.

Every spring semester, the Schumacher Gallery hosts an art exhibition that features work produced by students. Students of different majors, years and backgrounds are invited to submit pieces that they have created to showcase what they have been working on for the past year. Because of this, there is quite a variety of artwork displayed in terms of style and medium.

Regardless of the type of work, there is always a great deal of thought and effort put into each piece. A number of budding artists on campus have found different ways to turn inspiration into art.

“Blue Steady I” – Alex Millard

Junior Alex Millard, a double major in art therapy and psychology, has a chalk pastel portrait exhibit of a model she originally sketched in a life drawing course.

“She was lying down … and the way light and all the angles were hitting her for me just felt very blue, and I chose that to evoke an emotion because she seems kind of sad or contemplating the way that she’s laying down,” Millard said. “I tried to evoke that with the use of blue and purple.”

Millard took a quick sketch of the model, then returned to the piece later on to add detail and color.  She expressed enjoyment of the process of making this work and learned a great deal from this experience.

“This piece is important to me because it represents a time in my life where I had a lot of growth as an artist,” Millard said. “I really started to come into my own with how to use one of my favorite mediums, chalk pastels, and how to get proportions of the human form accurate while still at an unusual angle or space.”

Millard specializes in using chalk and oil pastels. She centers most of her work around human form and expression. Her favorite part about the piece is her portrayal of the model’s breasts and face.

“I think I portrayed them very true. They’re not perfectly shaped, they’re not of equal proportions,” Millard said. “I also really love the angle of her face…you really have to search for her expression and determine it, rather than it being obvious to you.”

When asked what meaning to she meant to give off with this work, Millard said, “As an artist, I never want to give a concrete meaning to my piece. I want your own interpretation to be made from it because I want it to be something personal. Whatever your interpretation is, it means something personal to you.”

Millard originally named the piece “Blue Steady I,” but it has since been accidentally labeled “Blue Shady I.”

“Print” – Mary Avery

Senior Mary Avery is a psychology and studio art major with a collection of ceramic pieces featured within the art exhibit.

The collection consists of five pieces that Avery made last semester for a ceramics class.

“The three larger pieces are actually constructed of three smaller pieces,” Avery said. “I made nine total pieces on the wheel, and then I took three of them and made one piece, took three of them and made one piece, took three of them and made one piece. It looks bigger, but it’s just because its comprised of several smaller pieces.”

This project was inspired by the challenge that it posed to Avery, who specializes in 2D art.

“As a 2D artist, working in 3D was definitely a push for me. It’s definitely outside of my comfort zone,” Avery said. “Going into the class, I knew this was going to be difficult…I actually decided that one of the rules in making [‘Print’] was going to be that whatever handprint or fingerprint I make on it, I’m going to leave.”

When asked what lead her to specifically design the work the way she did, Avery said, “The shapes and the forms that I was going for were stalactites [and] stalagmites. This weird kind of silhouette shape is what I was going for.”

Avery’s favorite part about her work is its richly-colored glaze.

“I took a gamble on the glaze, and I blind glazed it, so I didn’t know exactly what it was going to do,” Avery said. “I did five coats without knowing what was going to happen, but it ended up turning out really well. I really love the blue.”

Avery believes that “Print” demonstrates the need to accept imperfections.

“I think part of college in general and part of life is recognizing that you’re not going to be good at everything, you’re not going to succeed at everything first time you try it,” Avery said. “That was definitely a change for me because I like details, I like perfection…so I think in that aspect it was a good learning experience.”

“Mary” – Jackie Richardson

Sophomore Jackie Richardson is a studio art major and an emerging media major with a concentration in digital design. She has a portrait made out of charcoal on display.

Richardson is experienced in portrait-making and in a number of mediums including photography, digital art and painting. She created this work by taking a photograph of a friend, printing it out and using charcoal and chalk on toned paper to recreate the image.

“I try to draw people I know,” Richardson said. “Mary is very kind-hearted, and she’s very sweet and loving. So when I drew her, I tried to let that come through. I wasn’t just focused on lines and value, I was focused on expression and the way she was holding herself, the look in her eyes…I was just trying to capture her spirit.”

For this work, Richardson drew inspiration for the design from artists she knows personally.

“I … apprenticed under an artist in Utah, William Whitaker, and earlier this semester he passed away,” Richardson said. “When I entered this piece into the show, I did dedicate it to him … If I use what he’s taught me in all of my art, it’s like he’s not gone because his teachings, his methods, his techniques are still living on.”

“My sister is also an artist,” Richardson said. “I’m always trying to learn from her.  So actually, being at her house and doing this while she [was] beside me doing something completely different, it was training for me.”

Richardson’s favorite part of “Mary” is the portrait’s face.

“There are so many different emotions that we can exhibit visually,” Richardson said. “You can copy a face, but you won’t have that little teeny-tiny lift in the eye, or the teeny-tiny lift in the cheeks. There are so many expressions we have, and trying to get that right is a challenge. Just putting myself up to that challenge is always exciting.”

“Herlephant” – Marissa Hart

Marissa Hart is a fifth-year art therapy major who has produced a piece composed of acrylic paint on found wood for a painting and drawing class.

Hart was inspired to emulate major artists Rene Margritte and Vincent Van Gogh.

“I wanted to represent the weary feelings that Rene captures, where he places abnormal objects like an orange with a face and paints it levitating over a suit-body,” Hart said. “I then tried to capture [the] Van Gogh style of brush strokes. This piece was completely out of my comfort zone; neither of these techniques were my style.”

Hart’s favorite aspect is the playfulness of the works appearance.

“With the vibrant colors and the brush strokes, the eye just travels around the piece from the foreground and background,” Hart said.

Hart is proud of her work and believes that it has societal relevance.

“This is actually my favorite piece I have painted,” said Hart. “Elephants represent power and strength, thus why I choose an elephant’s head. Then I added a red ’60s dress. I wanted to represent how far women have come in society, as well as how far I have grown as an individual.”

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