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Senior Art Exhibit at the Snite

Observer Scene | Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Every year around this time, the Snite Museum on campus is proud to host an exhibit of artwork from students receiving either a bachelor’s degree or Masters in Fine Arts through the University. The projects are the result of a yearlong process. Not all art students choose to undertake such an extensive thesis project, but those that do produce some very impressive work.

The projects are essentially senior theses that the students begin to think about as early as the spring of their junior years. Throughout their senior year, the students work with faculty from the art, art history, and design departments on their projects. During the year they complete several reviews that allow their faculty advisors to stay to date on the status of their projects and allow for feedback. At the end of the first semester, all the artists presented a mid-year review and were required to present a final review once their art was on display in the Snite.

The styles of art and projects within the exhibit are as different as the artists, ranging from the more traditional fine arts like oil painting to projects that encompass a combination of audio and visual effects. There are also several very impressive design projects which present develop products for disabled consumers.

One such design project by Joey Curcio developed a new walker for children with cerebral palsy. In his artist statement, Curcio states: “It is discouraging for me to see so many medical products out on the market today that fail to address the social vulnerabilities of their users, especially of children with disabilities.” This sentiment prompted Curcio to design the leap frog, a walker designed to be “aesthetically inspiring, playful, and empowering.” It has the capabilities to morph into several different configurations to be most helpful to children with cerebral palsy.

Another equally impressive project, Anna Jordan created the design plan for a campaign to raise awareness about Lupus. Students may have seen her posters around campus with the catch phrase “Lupus is ____”.

According to her artist statement, Jordan had Lupus as a sophomore and was interested in creating a “cohesive awareness campaign” which allowed students and the general population to become more aware of the disease. Her exhibit included the several large posters she designed for the campaign as well as a book of postcards she had other individuals with lupus experience fill out.

The project by Cassidy Russell is an innovative piece of satire which uses a mixture of dyed fabric with appliqué and embroidery hoops in order to contrast traditional women’s roles and the more modern conception of a woman. In her own words: “By using women’s silhouettes, I am able to show both the importance of the individual in today’s feminism and the idea that all women deal with similar, though not identical, injustices.”

There is a clear tension between the ideals of women from the past and the realities of the present. This tension is expressed through the tension the embroidery hoops create on the fabric. In all, the piece is a very interesting commentary on the expectations and frustrations of being a woman in society today.

Perhaps the most enticing and eye-catching piece of the exhibit, Christina Lewis created a design for a large mural that she hopes will promote Puerto Rican statehood. Prominently displaying the phrase “Desea 51” which means “Hope for 51,” the mural encapsulates many symbols important to Puerto Rican history through the use of bright colors and graffiti like script. Lewis proposes the mural be installed on the old Spanish fort of San Cristobal in Old San Juan because of its iconic place within Puerto Rican history. Her artist statement reads: “I hope that my thesis project can become part of the grassroots effort to help push a statehood vote to a majority.”

Audrey Marier’s thesis was surely a daunting project, but the result is especially intriguing. The purpose of her project is to raise awareness and the “cool” factor of classical music among teenagers. Titled “IMMERS3D,” it is an innovative combination of audio tracks consisting of both live performances by college students as well as “epic versions of recorded music,” according to her artist statement. It was her concept to provide teenagers with a new way of experiencing classical music by providing animation coupled with cool facts about the music.

While you can see a basic representation of her project in the Snite galleries, Marier invites anyone interested to attend a 35-minute show in Jordan’s full dome theater, the Digital Visualization Theater. This is the first time that the DVT has done something so immersive. There will be a live performance of the show, with live music, on Thursday, April 30, at 9 p.m.

One of three graduate students featured in the exhibit, Allen Chen’s piece is a three dimensional fixture which combines clay and steel. He says the materials are an analogy for the dualistic way in which he perceives the world. According to his artist statement: “Art, to me, is a conduit that connects the inner world with the outside, and I understand it through the language of dualism.” The piece is especially interesting because it appears to represent an evolution of sorts, perhaps of thought or Chen’s own personal philosophy.

There are many other equally talented artists featured in the exhibit that all students should consider checking out. The exhibit is in the O’Shaughnessy gallery of the Snite Museum and will be up until May 17. Many of the artists will be presenting their projects for the Undergraduate Research Conference occurring on Friday.