Over the past two weeks, the six senior art majors created two exhibits to showcase artwork from their time as students.
Seniors Reagan Linde, Shannon Petersen, and Madelyn Schider presented their exhibit “Learning to See,” from April 1 through April 7. “The Eternal Feminine,” presented by Grace Cool, Alaura Gage, and Ashton Mills, is open April 8 through April 14.
Julio Suarez, assistant professor of fine arts at Hillsdale College, discussed the importance of senior art shows as a culmination of students’ growth over the past four years.
“Having a deadline and the responsibility of putting on a show is very good for student’s productivity and artistic growth,” Suarez said. “It is also extremely rewarding to see their work in a professional setting with the proper presentation and lighting.”
Both groups were tasked with establishing a theme for their shows, something that encapsulates the work of all three artists. Linde explained how her group came up with the theme “Learning to See.”
“We were talking about what the most important thing we learned in the art department was, and we realized it was learning to squint,” Linde said. “If you look at a scene and you squint, that’s how you decipher what the most important elements of a piece are. It lets you see the world in a much more real way.”
The “Eternal Feminine” was established in a similar way, with Gage proposing the idea as a way to unite the very different styles of these women’s art.
“I threw out the idea of the eternal feminine because it was something I was interested in. It slowly turned into a theme and we were able to research and explore the meaning of the term and how it was displayed in our work,” Gage said.
Both shows had an opening night reception where the artists were able to discuss and showcase their art together. Cool said it was one of the best nights of her college experience because of the community she was surrounded with.
“It was awesome seeing people’s faces as they looked at my art and wandered around the gallery,” Cool said. “A lot of the work art majors do is silent, just because the department is on the outskirts of campus. Our department is amazing, so it was cool seeing it get the recognition it deserved.”
Gage explained all the work that goes into setting up the shows; students are expected to select, frame, price, and display about 30 pieces of original art created during their time at Hillsdale College.
The shows featured a diverse selection of art including sculpture, oil painting, watercolor, photography, and graphic designs.
Gage explained the shows weren’t perfect, but the artists received lots of grace from peers and professors.
“I made a couple of mistakes in my graphic design, or the framing wasn’t perfect, or there was a scratch on one side. That’s always kind of daunting, but at the same time, it’s so much work,” Gage said. “It’s a funny human moment, when you don’t notice a mistake you’ve made, other people also tend not to notice, so people were very understanding.”
Petersen said that all art majors are connected to different areas on campus, so these shows give opportunities for students to come together and appreciate the beauty created by seniors.
“To be a well-rounded liberal arts student, you need to expose yourself to the different sides of campus. You need to go to basketball games, attend theater productions, and see what other students are doing,” Petersen said. “Take the time to witness objective beauty and support your friends.”