Seniors Zane Miller, Makenzie Self, and Emilia Heider presented their week-long senior capstone art exhibit, titled “Fool’s Gold,” on April 1 and held a reception on Friday, April 5 in the Fine Arts Building. Each senior presented the best of his artwork from the last four years at Hillsdale College. The artists chose the title “Fool’s Gold” as a pun referencing its opening day of April 1, and played it up with a black, white, and gold color scheme.
“The exhibit is a requirement for the art major core, but it’s a really exciting opportunity to bring together everything that you’ve done within the last four to five years,” Miller said.
Miller focused mainly on graphic design, while Self concentrated on oil painting, and Heider’s emphasis was photography. Per the recommendation of a friend, Miller displayed his best works from each class he took, campus organizations, and his job as the college’s lead student designer.
“I had the opportunity to have a lot of work to choose from, so I decided to choose the stuff that was the most artistic and took a lot of creativity to put together,” Miller said.
Miller said his interest in clean lines and balance inspired him to pursue graphic design, photography, and drawing to better understand concepts that visually stimulate. As the student graphic designer for the Tower Light and the Forum publications, Miller displayed his cover designs and piece called “Woman in White,” an assignment emphasizing light and shadows, which are all his most memorable pieces. “Woman in White” is a charcoal on paper drawing with a smoky appearance that distinctly outlines a woman’s face while the rest fades into a dark background.
“Creating a whole book or magazine and having it be cohesive takes a lot of pre-planning, and designing something that’s 48 pages required me to really think through how I’d utilize each page the best way that I can,” Miller said.
Self enjoys creating the different interactions between light and dark with oil painting. From these simple connections, Self said she finds beauty in what’s commonly mundane, and she said she has found fulfillment does not always derive from everything exciting and new.
Self said her skills in oil painting have gradually improved throughout the four years, but they’re still developing.
“You just gradually get better, and it just kind of builds on top of each other,” Self said. “There’s still a lot to learn, but I’ve also learned so much, and this show is a visual way to describe this.”
Self said her final edition of her oil painting, “Nike of Samothrace,” holds great significance to her, since it represents one of the first times she felt confident in her abilities as an art major. The sculpture she copied was made of white marble, but Self used a lot of burnt umber in her painting to highlight the fabric’s depth and the sculptor’s mastery.
“It gave me the most confidence as an artist in a way, that it was worth majoring in art, that I wasn’t wasting my time,” Self said. “Creating art for me is a helpful act for others because it’s glorifying to God, and that piece is one where people could just look at and enjoy, rather than me trying to be good at something.”
Though this whole exhibit presented the best artwork from their four years in college, Self said this is a vulnerable moment for her since only her professors have seen her displayed pieces before the exhibit. Yet watching others enjoy her artwork and answering their questions helped relieve her from this stress, allowing her to enjoy their appreciation.
“It’s like ripping off the bandaid,” Self said.
For Heider, her natural talent and love of photography is derived from her dad’s hobby of the art. Growing up, her dad always snapped photos of their family during vacations or natural sceneries that he found beautiful, Heider said.
“It comes natural to me, and I don’t really have to try as much, usually I just stumble upon something I find beautiful in nature,” Heider said. “I was given my father’s eye for beauty.”
Heider said she enjoys photographing roses, fog, frost, anything with intricate details in nature, as it was seen in her displays. She displayed a macro photo of a leaf’s veins covered in different light and shadows, and another one of a spiderweb.
“I love the details of patterns on things and the way sunlight come through them, and in every one of my pieces there’s strong backlighting,” Heider said. “It’s a lot about the way the sun interacts with the world around me that I want to try and capture.”