Photograph by Aidan D'Anna

Senior art exhibition features works by 13 graduating studio art majors

The 2022 Senior Art Exhibition, “Don’t Blink,” opened on April 8 in the Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art. The show features the work of 13 graduating senior studio art majors and is the culmination of a full year’s worth of time and effort. 

Assistant Professor of Art and Studio Head of Digital Media Brian House is teaching ART 492, the class associated with the exhibition, as well as curating the show. House emphasized that while the class does culminate in this big project, its main goal is to set  graduates up to be successful artists in the real world. 

“The art major is kind of shifting away from teaching individual courses and having the seniors continually working to an assignment,” House said. “It is more about transitioning to working on their own practice just as professional artists do.” 

Part of this goal involves the intensive focus on this individualized body of work. To develop their thesis projects, seniors must complete a two-part capstone series unique to the art major. This is in addition to a junior seminar course the cohort also takes together the year before they graduate. 

Kess Moulton ’22 is part of this cohort of art majors, and believes that the structure of the major creates a strong community among the artists. 

“Being in the same class with the same people for so long really creates a strong community,” Moulton said. “You work through all of the hard things together, you celebrate successes and you celebrate breakthroughs. And I have become so close with these people, because I know them so well, because they have shown so much vulnerability.” 

Fiona Denihan ’22, another graduating art major, feels as though the nature of the work requires this close-knit environment. 

“I think we’ve bared our hearts and our souls to each other as we try to express our identity,” Denihan said. “You need support from people, I think, so we sort of just banded together out of necessity.” 

The title of the exhibition, generated by the students, also speaks to this vulnerability. House’s curatorial statement describes the theme as an opportunity to wield agency over one of the five senses, but in talking to the artists it is clear each one has a different interpretation.

 Moulton sees it as an opportunity to discuss difficult topics. Helen Wilbur ’22 used it to go back in time and speak with her younger self. Denihan channeled the fact that you close your eyes when you are scared. Finally, Lindsey Fischer ’22 asks the viewer to literally refrain from blinking as they watch her video display. 

The seniors deeply value their commitment to the work and took passionate ownership of the show. 

“Another thing about the art thesis specifically, is that it is not completely controlled by the faculty,” Wilbur said. “They still expect us to plan and participate in a lot of things. For this show, we came up with the name, we designed the brochure, all of that kind of stuff. So it really feels like our show, not just ‘oh, I have my artwork in the show.’ It is really a group accomplishment.” 

The exhibition’s opening coincided with Festival of Scholars and Artists, which was both nerve-wracking and exciting for the artists. 

“I was really thinking about what I was going to say,” Wilbur said. “Which is ridiculous because nobody knows my work better than I do. It’s not like I can say the wrong thing, but I was really worried about that.”

Moulton was excited because they had designed their project specifically for the show. 

“I made this work so it could be seen,” Moulton said. “I think that is what drove my concepts so hard, because I felt (my work) is really important for other people to understand. And I think that art is also a really accessible way of communication, I think that part of the reason why it is such a public format is because it is accessible.” 

This accessibility is what leads to different interpretations, which House feels is what art is all about. 

“As artists, we are producing cultural objects that are meant to be in dialogue with what is going on in the world,” House said. “And in some sense, artwork is completed by the viewer …  so I think the purpose of the gallery is to let that kind of exchange happen.” 

“Don’t Blink” is available for students to visit during regular gallery hours (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday) until May 8. The seniors encourage anyone who has not yet stopped by to spend a few minutes of their day in conversation with the work. 

“If you do end up going to see our work, you will not leave without having a reaction to something,” Denihan said. “Whether it is just a flinch, or you end up mesmerized staring at the work on the walls. You will not come away feeling un-opinionated. Something will touch you, even if you do not get or like it, you will carry something with you. And I think that is what is so powerful about this cohort of students and the work that we were all able to do.”

Aidan was a contributor for the Pioneer Log in his first semester at Lewis and Clark and became a features editor for his second semester. He is also a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team, Model United Nations, and Psych club.
As a features editor, he hopes to direct students’ attention to events, people, and interesting details about the community they share. He also hopes to inspire fellow students to write for the Pioneer Log and contribute to its supportive journalistic environment.

Aidan is a Psychology major and English minor. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing poetry, playing the piano, and all things comedy.

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