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.”