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Elyse Hutcheson | Courtesy

They’re just three cool guys, a bit outside-the-box, with a variety of eye-catching, col­orful art to showcase. 

Seniors Stephanie Rose, Elyse Hutcheson, and Summer Smith will exhibit art from their four years at Hillsdale College in their cap­stone project, an art show that runs April 2 – 7 in the Daughtery Gallery, with an artist’s reception on April 6 from 4 – 6 p.m.

“We like to exper­iment, we like color, breaking outside of the box a little bit,” Hutcheson said. 

That casual approach explains the name, too. Rose tried to strike a balance between serious and fun, and the three agreed that 3 Cool Guys seemed to fit the best.

“It was kind of a meme for me at first, but I couldn’t think of any­thing better,” Hutcheson said. “You don’t want to sound too pre­ten­tious, or like you’re taking it too seri­ously — it’s an under­graduate art show.” 

Rose illus­trates with a tablet, but her exhibit will include sculpture, charcoal paint, and water­color, too, including her por­trait of Rachel Solomito ’17, which won first place in the drawing section of the student art show last year. She’s most excited to show off her per­sonal projects: digital illus­tra­tions that she hasn’t been able to display in shows meant for classwork. 

Hutcheson will show oil paintings. She’s excited to showcase her abstract work: She said few in the art department do non­rep­re­sen­ta­tional work, and at student shows, that work some­times gets lost amid the quantity of good rep­re­sen­ta­tional pieces. 

“Just to put some things that are out of the box and give them the space to have their own space will make me really happy,” she said.  

Smith illus­trates with markers, pen, and ink, but she’s most proud of her work as sole designer of The Forum, as well as a drawing of a seated man she ded­i­cated a lot of time to for Drawing II. Smith said that her work is nerdy, with comic-book-style illus­tra­tions, but she just likes making art that’s fun to look at. 

The vibe that the name, and by extension, the artists, conveys is casual: Rose said that it’s made to be approachable and enjoyable. It extends to the approach Smith said viewers should take in an art show. 

“I don’t think you have to have this men­tality that you have to be this artsy, pre­ten­tious person who knows a lot of things about modern art who can look at a work and extrap­olate some huge statement from it,” Smith said. “If you just like looking at things that are pretty, that’s a good reason to go to an art show.”

Hutcheson said that for anyone, but espe­cially under­classmen con­sid­ering the art major, who go and think, “Wow, I could never put on a show,” it’s important to know that the show might look impressive, but under­neath, there’s been four years of work and a lot of frus­tration. 

She said that just as it’s good for stu­dents to attend thesis talks and senior recitals, it’s good to visit senior art shows and involve them­selves in what their peers are doing. 

Looking back as she’s assembled her exhibit, Hutcheson can see her progress. She said she used to think artists made boring, clas­sical-looking art, or wild art, with a palette knife and paint­brush, throwing paint all over the canvas. 

“It’s not really that way, you do need an under­standing of how a face looks and how a body works and be able to place care­fully before you wildly stab at your canvas,” she said. “That evo­lution has been real, and Hillsdale has been helpful for me, even though I approach every­thing a little bit dif­fer­ently than some others in the department.”  

Smith, who came to Hillsdale resolved to study English and classics, had a crisis her sophomore year. She almost quit to attend art school, but instead she dropped the classics major and picked up art. Through them, she gained the con­fi­dence that she can work as an artist. 

Rose’s style is fun and quirky — like her sculpture of a woman with a cat on her shoulder. Smith appre­ciates Rose’s “cool, cute char­acter design,” and remembers being cap­ti­vated by a piece depicting a girl with dark hair, red lips, and a kimono, a serene piece with pops of color. 

Color unites the two illus­trators and graphic designers with Hutcheson’s oil paintings. In fact, that’s what Smith likes most, espe­cially Hutcheson’s trio of self-por­traits that use under­painting — a tech­nique wherein she paints her canvas before her work to create an overall tone that seeps through the fin­ished piece — to inspire dif­ferent emo­tions. Hutcheson loves mixing colors for herself to see how they interact, rather than using the color that oozes from the tubes. Rose’s favorite is a giant, 4’x4’ nude with heavy black out­lines, white, and pops of red. 

The show is part of the senior cap­stone class art majors are required to take, which Teacher of Art Bryan Springer teaches. The class gives stu­dents prac­tical skills for life as a pro­fes­sional artists: writing artist’s state­ments, making port­folios, cre­ating web­sites and LinkedIn pro­files, and of course, preparing a show. 

Springer frames it in terms of self-pro­motion: cre­ating a visual identity, a story of them­selves, that they can market pro­fes­sionally. 

“Stephanie Rose and Summer Smith like the idea of story-telling, fig­u­rative works that are pro­ducing a visual nar­rative,” Springer said. From Rose, he said, he also gets this idea of fem­inine beauty.

Springer echoed what Hutcheson said about learning the fun­da­mentals to exper­iment well. 

“That’s what’s been great about art majors going through the foun­da­tions and fig­uring out what they want to do,” Springer said. 

Springer said he loves senior exhibits because they’re a cel­e­bration of the stu­dents’ accom­plish­ments, and allows their per­sonal interests to shine. 

“I feel a certain sense of pride with these people that we’ve worked with for three to four years to really take flight with this amazing work,” Springer said, “and to see that they have con­fi­dence in their own skills and apply them.”