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Art majors reflect on Senior Art Show

May 27, 2018
By Lauren Pak '21, Contributing Writer

Chickens, etched on to 8-foot tall wooden boards, are seen immediately upon entering the Perlman Teaching Museum. Studio art major Emma Wallace ’18, who is displaying these illustrations as part of this year’s Senior Art Show, associates a meaningful connection with these creatures.

“Chickens can only know thirty other chickens at a time. I was thinking about who in my life makes my life the way it is, and what it means to remember someone and for someone not to remember me. My grandpa has Alzheimer’s, so he doesn’t know who I am anymore,” said Wallace.

The Senior Art Show debuted on May 11. Studio art majors were given the option to display their Comps or a different body of work made during their senior year. For Wallace, art acts as a medium to help her process her thoughts. “I was thinking about how he used to know who I am. Just how we meet new people in our life, meet others and how our social networks change over time,” added Wallace.

A majority of the artists shared insights into their pieces.

Brandon Carrillo ’18 aims to increase awareness of the human figure through his artwork. “The big pieces are the Dysphoric Series. It’s basically about Bodily Dysmorphic Disorder. There’s a bunch of different symptoms on how to diagnose BDD and the separate titles are some of those symptoms,” he said.

His graphite images focus on detached, mismatched parts of the body in order to draw attention to the whole. “I wanted to emphasize that sometimes we forget that we have a body. We go about our day like we just exist,” added Carrillo.

Sylvie Stanback ’18 also takes cognizance of the ordinary. Stanback alters the conventional use of everyday objects, such as toothpicks, Q-tips and straws. “They’re objects that you see, but you don’t ever notice them. They’re just kind of there and you use it once and then throw it away without even thinking. And it goes back to worthlessness,” said Stanback.

The art exhibit is not limited to two-dimensional displays, as Lynn Daniel ’18 demonstrates. She created three chairs, a table and a sculpture made of plaster, which are arranged near the center of the museum. Each piece of furniture is customized. One of the chairs was designed to help those with back pain. “The furniture has no body with it. Once we’re using it, it has a body with it. But it’s missing that. But then it looks comfortable. So it’s this comfortable lack of body,” she said.

Daniel also commented on the figure made of plaster, which was cast on a real body. “What is the average body? There is no average body,” she said. “Which is absurd to me that there’s average furniture.”

Normally, it would be considered vandalism to leave a drawing on someone’s Comps. This is not the case for Daihui Meng ’18, who combines aspects from his double major in art and philosophy. Meng’s 14x7 foot digital print of a watercolor painting is accompanied by colored pencils and a sign: “Mark on the work as you see fit.”

“First of all, I’m curious how people think. I wanted them to think about these pieces by interacting with them. The fun part for me was that I didn’t know what they were going to do. It was fun for me to go back and see new things,” observed Meng.

Yet, there is a wide range of philosophical approaches. Emma Westbrook ’18 considers the rationale behind her work. “I’d rather make images that I like, that I don’t what know what they mean. There’s nothing deep. I put Clippy in a drawing because my friends said it was funny,” she explained.

Westbrook notes how her spontaneous placement of different figures correlates to the way social media formats photos and news. “That’s about information dissemination,” she said. “But information dissemination in 1450 was manuscript culture where monks were in monasteries copying these manuscripts and writing crazy things in the margins. How did we get from there to here?”

Christine Zheng ’18 also takes an abstract approach to depicting conventional images. Zheng’s art is a two-step process: she makes collages out of magazine clippings and then chooses one or two to paint. “I was thinking about ways to create worlds from these deadened, hyper-altered images,” said Zheng.

“The Carleton community is very interested in intellectual things and academics. And that goes back to why I would love for my paintings to be fun, playful and celebratory,” added Zheng.

Eliciting emotions through creative work is a common theme. Katie Williams ’18 reflects on her series of paintings titled Intuit. The two forms in each piece are painted to be in an embrace. “A lot of what I was thinking about was this idea of moving past Carleton and what that means. I was reflecting on this idea of letting go of those friendships, but keeping them close to my heart,” explained Williams.

Meanwhile, Ben Alexander ’18 had precision in mind while producing his architectural drawings. “I wanted this project to engage with the viewer’s perception of everyday architecture, to stimulate their awareness of the real architectural details around them,” he explained.

“In designing architecture, drawings are made in precise detail in order to later translate the two-dimensional drawings into a structure that inhabits three-dimensional space,” noted Alexander.

On the opposite wall of Alexander’s work, portraits generated through pen and colored graphite pencils line the wall. The artist Issa Wilson ’18 had a friend in mind for every piece. “There were added elements and those were specific to those individuals. Some had a string of numbers or people’s initials,” said Wilson.

In addition to his work on the wall, Wilson also created an interactive card game with his portraits printed on the cards.
“We had 100 packs of cards. And the idea behind the card game was to make my Comps more focused on art interactivity, art accessibility and community building,” explained Wilson.

“And even though the incentive was to get more cards, what it’s really about is creating these micro-communities of art traders. You can have a profound discussion with people you don’t know in an art space. I was trying to help facilitate,” said Wilson.

Many pieces in the Senior Art Show are up for sale. “We were told how we should think about the price we give for our work. And some of the prices are for insurance in case the piece is stolen or damaged,” said Meng.

The show enables the students to experience being professional artists. “The whole point is that it’s supposed to help us experience what it’s like to actually show in a gallery. For myself, it’s the first time we’re showing in an actual museum,” said Zheng.

The exhibition will continue until June 9.

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