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Seniors Makenzie Self, Zane Miller, and Emilia Heider hosted an art exhibit last weekend. Courtesy | Zane Miller

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.”