Studio art majors reveal eye-catching works in culminating show

by Nalini Ramanathan | 5/11/16 5:45pm

Many students and faculty members attended the opening reception of the studio art department’s senior majors exhibition.
by Seamore Zhu / The Dartmouth

Crowds filled the Jaffe-Friede and Strauss Galleries in the Hopkins Center, fueled by snacks, fine wine and punch on Tuesday as 12 senior studio art majors experienced their first taste of life as working artists at the opening reception for their senior majors exhibition.

With their sculptures dangling from ceilings and their paintings adorning the walls, the artists conversed with fellow students, faculty and members of the Class of 1960, who purchased some of the students’ artwork to be installed in the residential buildings at Dartmouth as part of a 25-year program with the Office of Residential Life.

Studio art department chair Soo Sunny Park and senior assistant dean of residential life Mike Wooten opened Tuesday’s event with short remarks about the students and their pieces. Class of 1960 representative Dennis Goldman ’60 followed with a presentation of awards for art that would be purchased for the Residence Hall Art Project, which began in 1961 as an initiative to decorate the College’s dorms with student artwork.

Goldman said his class really appreciates and advocates for the program. Because it supports studio art majors and the department, he hopes the class of 2010, which graduated 50 years after his class, will fully take over this tradition after deciding to co-sponsor the program with the ’60s in 2011.

Angelica Carrillo Leal ’16 received the Class of 1960 Office of Residential Life Purchase Award for her piece, which features three depictions of the female face in different poses using vibrant paint and intricate papercutting techniques.

Emily Harwell ’16 also received the award for her collages “Untitled” and “Study of Money.” To make both pieces, Harwell cut real money and prints of bills into geometric shapes and mounted them onto a piece of copper leaf.

Darby Raymond-Overstreet ’16, who received one of the top awards along with Benjamin Albrecht ’16, discussed the expression of her heritage throughout her work.

One of her pieces combines digital mediums along with traditional elements of tapestry such as symmetry and bold contrasting colors. Another unnamed piece in the exhibition are two portraits — one of a man, one of a woman — with geometric patterns and neutral colors overlaid on their skin.

Raymond-Overstreet said her work is in homage to weavers that were alive during the early 1890s through mid-1900s.

“It honors their skills and their contribution to contemporary Navajo identity today,” Raymond-Overstreet said.

After the opening remarks, the event transitioned into an open viewing and an informal discussion with the artists.

Many pieces in the exhibition touch upon humanity and identity. Created using ink on paper and polyester, Jenny Seong ’16’s “Stay” is a print of a faceless human silhouette formed by hundreds of smaller human figures in various poses superimposed over the silhouette’s shadow.

Jinny Seo ’16’s oil on canvas painting “Between the Folds” is an intimate portrait of a woman, who despite having a relaxed expression on her face, is surrounded by a dark background.

Albrecht’s sculpture “Frustration with Physicality” is a larger than life human head molded in a similar expression to the subject of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” (1910).

Lynn Jones ’15 created a photographic series titled, “Expression Is Itself Transformation,” which is a collection of four black-and-white photos of a naked woman holding art supplies, wrapped in thick chain or covered in dark tulle.

A quote regarding art as therapy by Stephen K. Levine, author of “Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy: Theoretical and Clinical Perspectives” (1998) is printed above the photos.

When placing Jones’ series in the gallery, director of exhibitions Gerald Auten, who curated the exhibit, decided to put it in a corner to give the piece the appearance of an open book.

Some pieces depict human interactions with nature. Corinne Hardy’s ’16 oil painting “Hiding Places” resembles a forest landscape with hidden caves that may not be visible at any initial glance.

Ham Sonnenfeld ’16’s “Wax Cut Studies 1-8” is a multimedia piece with eight cross-sections of various wood types covered in a layer of wax that hardened into unique patterns and textures.

Dalia McGill ’16’s prints play with an abstract interpretation of the world. Designed using monotype and pens, “Sunset on a Nudist beach” and “The Grand Canyon” are vivid pieces that invite the viewer to consider an alternate look at nature and art.

Jennifer Ontiveros ’15’s sculptures “Inevitable Eviction” and “Existence” are similar to McGill’s in their abstract element. Both pieces, which are formed out of wire covered in colored plastic wrap, currently hang from the ceiling in Jaffe-Friede Gallery. Ontiveros’ use of positive and negative space in the organic forms contributes to the shadows that are cast on the gallery’s floor due to the placement of the overhead lighting.

The seniors created most of their pieces in the studio art department’s senior seminar, a two-term culminating experience required for all majors. Before taking the seminar, studio art professor Enrico Riley said the seniors are rather separated by their areas of concentration, including drawing, sculpture or printmaking.

However, in this seminar all of the majors were divided up into two sections, irrespective of their concentration, allowing each student to get different perspectives from their peers’ backgrounds, Riley said.

Park noted that the department’s interns, who were selected from the past year’s graduating seniors, provided valuable input as both peers and advanced artists.

Throughout these seminars, students work on sets of pieces that typically focus on a cohesive theme.

Some studio art majors are also part of the department’s honors program, for which they create a separate body of work. Some of these pieces are featured in the exhibit as well.

Studio art professor Colleen Randall said that studio art majors choose pieces created through these programs that they would like to have in the senior major exhibition. Then, a group of tenured studio art professors and senior seminar professors act as a jury, choosing the strongest work from each student. Randall said that the professors aim to represent each student equally, looking at the size of the pieces as well as the quantity of the work produced.

Auten said every year the body of work the students produce is very different. This year, for example, included a large quantity of paintings, some of which were large and bright female portraits by Pauline Lewis ’16.

However, he said there was a nice balance between pieces that were meant to be on the walls and those which could be displayed in the gallery’s central space. The main focus, he said, is ensuring the works do not detract from one another.

“For instance, if you hung three large paintings next to each other by different artists and then a series of seven photographs by different artists, they wouldn’t each have their own kind of identity,” he said.

Park said this exhibition and the senior seminar leading up to it is when the students truly become artists.

“When you start to think about the viewers and what you created having a power to communicate with people other than yourself, that’s when you can start calling the work an art piece,” Park said.

Many Dartmouth students visited the exhibition, spurred by interest in the artists’ talents as well as a desire to support their friends and peers.

Veridi Suvero ’16 said they enjoyed the opening reception and seeing the art their classmates created.

“I was impressed by the artistry,” di Suvero said. “I didn’t know that half of these people were studio art majors, or that they were so good.”

The exhibition will run until June 19 in the Jaffe-Friede and Strauss Galleries and the Nearburg Arts Forum in the Black Family Visual Arts Center.


Correction appended (May 12, 2016):

In the earlier version of this article Veri di Suvero '16 was incorrectly referred to as Alexandra and incorrect pronouns were used. The article has been corrected to reflect these changes.