Senior studio art majors exhibit works for their final show

by Marley Marius | 5/12/14 2:40pm

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Clockwise from top left, works by Ryan Hueston '14, Alison Leung '14, Zac Moskow '14 and Lauren Gatewood '14.

Dartmouth’s 25 senior studio art majors will celebrate the opening to their final undergraduate exhibit this evening, featuring their best work from their senior seminars. Their drawings, paintings, photographs and prints are spread across the Hopkins Center’s Jaffe-Friede and Strauss Galleries as well as the Black Family Visual Arts Center’s Nearburg Arts Forum.

This year, the exhibit includes between three and six works by each artist, Gerald Auten, director of exhibitions and the artist-in-residence program, said. A panel of studio art faculty selects works two weeks in advance, he said, opting for pieces that represent the “breadth of areas of interest” within the majors.

Studio art department chair Esmé Thompson will give a short series of remarks at Tuesday’s 4:30 p.m. gallery reception. With a representative from the office of residential life, Thompson will announce the College’s purchase awards, a buying program that the College runs to purchase student art for display in residential halls.

The opening celebration will focus on celebrating the seniors’ culminating works. Some students, such as neuroscience and studio art double major Sera Boeno ’14, said the show could be bittersweet, as she has enjoyed the major but does not have plans to pursue art as a professional career.

“I was always super interested in art, but I never really saw it as a secure form of life-making,” Boeno said. “But I also feel super incomplete when I don’t do art.”

Boeno’s contributions to the exhibit include strongly autobiographical themes, she said. Informed by the political and social unrest rocking Istanbul, the city she calls home, Boeno used wax and plaster casts to examine current discourse around immigration, gender and family.

Boeno uses mainly “found objects” to create her works, such as a piece that incorporates tear gas canisters she picked up off Istanbul’s streets last summer.

“I believe in object memory a lot, so an experience that an object goes through inherently changes that object,” she said. “They just generate some sort of energy that adds to the piece.”

Engineering and studio art double major Sean Hammett ’14 said he was interested in making art from chaos. Hammett’s work includes a drawing machine that he built by hand.

The device, which resembles a windmill, has a pencil affixed to the bottom that continuously draws a circle. Hammett will display the 28 drawings that this machine has produced over the course of the exhibition.

The result, Hammett said, will be “a constantly changing, growing drawing piece.” He hopes it will evoke a tension between art created by nature, man and machine, as his machine is powered by wind, built by man but able to operate on its own.

“How the drawings turn out will depend very much on how I built the machine, but it also depends on what the wind was like that day, or whether or not it rained,” Hammett said. “So there’s a relationship there between what I can control and what the world can control. And where that balance lies I think is really interesting.”

Melinda Agron ’14, a studio art major with a concentration in architecture, said that though she plans to pursue a professional career in architecture, she has enjoyed taking a senior seminar in installation art. This medium has allowed her greater freedom to explore concepts that interest her, she said.

Agron’s pieces include a floor-to-ceiling sculpture that is made of pencils, acrylic paint and rubber bands, an artist’s book made of masonite and yarn and a work fashioned entirely of blue and orange yarn that stretches taut across the expanse of the Nearburg Gallery.

Agron said her works all involve a manipulation of space.

“My installations are mostly about spaces that feel empty to me and enlivening those spaces by creating new spaces and affecting how people move through or interact with them,” Agron said.

Agron said her close work with studio art faculty members and student interns helped her develop throughout the senior seminar and pushed her to experiment. She said she conversed with professors about her work, whether in formal critiques or informal dialogue.

Andoni Georgiou ’14, who used concrete and mixed media to create three works in the exhibit, said studio art professor Soo Sunny Park influenced him. He took her introductory sculpture class, and she teaches his senior seminar.

Boeno, who cited assistant studio art professor John Kemp Lee and studio art professor Brenda Garand as two sources of inspiration, praised the high standards that the department sets for majors. When creating art, students must think in terms of concepts and themes, not just aesthetic value, she said.

“We are asked to think, and we hold ourselves to the Dartmouth academic standards through art,” she said.

The exhibit documents the growth students underwent in their seminars, Georgiou said. Before coming to Dartmouth, he had not “done much art at all,” yet the major has prepared him with “highly applicable” skills, he said.

Hammett and Boeno will serve as two of five studio art interns next year, along with Ryan Hueston ’14, Julian MacMillan ’14 and Matt Sturm ’13. The interns, who assist in classes and mentor studio art majors, will receive studio space and funding to make art.

Though nervous, Hammett said he is excited to focus on his work and try out being a professional artist.