Senior exhibition “Chasing Pigeons”
Each year, one of the highlights at Denison is the senior studio art exhibition, showcasing the work of graduating studio art majors. This year’s exhibition, Chasing Pigeons, is the result of an intensive two-semester senior capstone experience.
“Senior Studio Art majors get a studio space in Bryant for the school year and meet as a group with their Senior Practicum instructor during Friday afternoons for discussion of texts, artwork, art practice, critiques, development of an arts practice, etc. There is also a Thursday evening lab time which is reserved for visiting artist lectures and professional development,” says Sheilah ReStack, associate professor and chair of the department.
This year’s exhibition featured eight graduating seniors. Enjoy their work and artist’ statements below.
Sophie Boyages ’22
Sophie Boyages ’22, from Cleveland, Ohio, studied Studio Art, Anthropology and Sociology. After graduating, Sophie plans on going to graduate school to become a certified and licensed mental health therapist.
I was unsure of the person I was, what I wanted for my future and how to navigate through the good and bad periods of life. I carried my heart on my sleeve and my emotions deep within. I gave to the people who took and not to the people who deserved. I sought validation in the smallest forms, to mask the uncertainty and mistrust I had in myself and my intuition.
Produced using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and other Adobe applications/programs much of my work takes the form of digital illustrations, depicting the barriers in life I have stood behind. I refer to graffiti, print media and artists such as, Jean-Michel Basquiat, J.R., Barbara Kruger, Judy Chicago, and Bridget Riley as references and inspiration for my work.
My most current work experiments with illusion and space. Through this work, I challenge my viewers to encounter and question the meaning and significance of the piece itself. Created to illustrate my personal struggle of my place, path in life, and what lies ahead in the future, this piece works to distort the reality of space and what lies beyond.
I am interested in translating these ideas through line, form, and large-scale installation to enhance the experience of the viewer, as well as the message of the piece. Through this project, I hope to bring awareness to the stress and anxiety many of us feel when trying to follow (or go against) the expectations of others and choose the path in life best suited for yourself.
Deborah Garner ’22
Deborah Garner ‘22 is a BFA in Studio Art from Cleveland. She plans on moving to Boston to obtain her Masters of Arts in Teaching at Tufts University.
I want this colorful body of work to transport the viewer into tiny different environments. The illusion of material and abstraction of matter invites reflection in a way that the easily understood and expected can not. I also like the idea of ceramics being used for something performative like a puzzle because it’s unexpected for this material.
My intention is to harness the power that these small ceramic arrangements have to catch one’s attention and then use these small manufactured spaces in a group to create a larger new environment as a result. The negative space that these tiny pieces together creates is able to captivate more than the positive space and while I allow the pieces to remain relatively “flat”, I still give them the agency to catch the eye through the appearance of a dance frozen in place or a snapshot from a film.
Artists for this body of work that influenced my process and helped me place my sculptures within a stronger historical and modern framework include Alexander Calder, Bruce M Sherman and Bari Ziperstein. These artists are known for their utilization of “flat” forms to create something 3D such as the hanging mobile or the more traditional slab building technique.
Maddie Kuentz ’22
Maddie Kuentz ‘22 is a BFA Studio Art from Cleveland. Her work is often inspired by themes of childhood, femininity, identity, and/or queerness and artists such as Liza Lou, Judith Scott, Nick Cave, and Mona Hatoum.
My piece Waste Cam is inspired by fashion sustainability. I am using this piece as a way of exploring new methods of reusing waste in order to reduce pollution. The exterior of the piece is made entirely out of scraps from either previous garments I’ve made or from the Denison Costume Shop. I then collected waste from my day-to-day life and used it as a stuffing. These objects include plastic water bottles, empty spools, plastic bags, cardboard packaging, empty pill bottles, and more. These interior objects come from my personal waste, inherently forming a connection to identity.
Throughout my time at Denison, my artwork has continuously involved themes of identity, childhood, queerness, and feminity. My piece Waste Camp speaks to each of these themes; however, the most prevalent are identity and femininity. My identity is represented through the objects inside the sculpture as well as the unapologetic use of strong, vibrant colors on the exterior fabric. Femininity plays into my work due to the notion that fiber arts are considered women’s work.
My work aims to challenge our ideas of waste by demonstrating its potential and transforming it into a work of art. The trash I collected has become an entirely new object that resembles a body due to its display. Waste Camp rests on a swing in order to create this bodily connection while also adding a sense of playfulness and movement. Through this piece I am queering ideas of trash by transforming them into an engaging body-like sculpture.
Yuan Liu ’22
Yuan Liu ‘22 is a BFA in Studio Art from Jiaxing, China. Yuan’s plans for next year include getting a motorcycle and continuing his art-making/photography practices.
My name is Yuan Liu. This year I am working on exploring the intervention into the medium of photography to show and expand its possibility. The camera is an extension of my eye and it’s a way of helping me to translate my feelings.
I am using photography as a playful undermining of that in the senior practicum work. Lucas Blalock, Sara Cwynar, Sam Falls, John Houck, Kate Steciw, Jessica Eaton, Michele Abeles and Daniel Gordon, etc. I am inspired by each one of them a lot.
I believe art can be experimental and mysterious. Even though the medium of photography is always considered as capturing “the moment of truth”. I can’t deny the authenticity that photography itself brings, but I feel that photography doesn’t need to always convey a specific, real intent. A reality-based photo can also be blurry, ambiguous, confusing. I prefer to call my work the illustration of the place itself. Because “place” is such an ambiguous term. “Place” is trapped in our memories, time, and geographic locations. Each one of us has our own personal attachment to different places.
Going back to my work, I use cameras to pick up each frame of the reality and then use photoshop, inkjet printers to replay the physical environments into their own digital representations. I believe everyone perceives the world differently, and I am curious about how to recreate the scene that appears in my mind into reality.
Peter Loughlin ’22
Peter Loughlin ‘22 is a BFA in Studio Art and minor in East Asian Studies, from Hingham, Massachusetts. Peter is planning to continue his passion in design, working with fellow senior, Henry Selden, to grow Lazy Dog, a line of loungewear clothing.
I arrive at my style by critically thinking about the practice of graphic design and fine art in relation to my body of work as an ongoing investigation of formalist aspects in two- dimensional composition to lure viewers into reevaluating how they interpret shape, color, image, word, or phrase.
Similar to a haiku, the aesthetic of my work follows the minimalist idiom, “less is more,” creating the opportunity to seek beauty in simplicity. Considering the work of Victor Burgin and his emphasis on the acute process of naming a photograph, I’ve developed an interactive display that instigates the cognitive transfer from image to word and vice versa by utilizing a specifically chosen set of English idioms and photographs taken from the mega-stock image site, GettyImages.
Training my practice to operate within a formulated structure ironically allows me to yield the most creative possibilities. Exploring the human process of viewing two seemingly unrelated things and drawing connections between them has been my most recent area of study. The cliched idioms and euphemisms I’ve chosen are a continuation of an ongoing investigation exploring the peculiar, yet fantastic figurative phrases that embellish the lexicon of the English language while simultaneously creating a code only decipherable by the most advanced speakers.
The imagery is carefully chosen from the archives of black and white photography from the website, GettyImages, and is intended to be as generic and interpretive as possible while still being grounded in the timeframe of 20th century documentary photography. As a British-American company, GettyImages curates a westernized lens highlighted through my selection and used as a generic backdrop with which I can accomplish an ambiguous interpretation while rooted in my experience growing up and living in the western world.
Anya Nelson ’22
Anya Nelson ’22 is a Communication and Studio Art double major from Columbus, Ohio. After graduation, she hopes to work in marketing or public relations, while maintaining a relationship with photography through freelance or studio jobs.
I did a lot of previous work capturing different people’s emotions behind the camera as somewhat of a visual ‘case study.’ This work was intriguing to me because I was able to see other people act expressively and vulnerably whilst behind the lens; picking and choosing my favorite moments at their expense. For this current body of work, I wanted to challenge myself to be in a position of vulnerability, and to be able to share a part of my story which I never do despite my interest in human narratives and behavior.
The five images within this work are meant to function as narrative shedding light on some of the internal struggles I felt navigating my own body and becoming comfortable accepting the fact that I’m a gay woman.
Oftentimes we disregard the intersectional aspect that plays into the lives of many LGBT POC. Growing up I remember thinking that since I was Asian it wasn’t ‘fair’ that I was gay too. This led to a path of inner turmoil and internalized homophobia, manifesting in the darkness of the closet I locked myself into.
The images work as a visual representation of the aggression I felt during this time. The titles work with the images and are just as important as they chronologically mark the milestones toward eventual self- acceptance. They are translated in Chinese (in order); 女同性恋: homosexual woman, 排除: purge and 隔离: isolation, 自残: self-harm and 祈愿: yearning, 屈服: succumb, and finally 自 我接受: self-acceptance. These two factors of my identity have taken an equal toll on forming the thick skin that clings to my body.
Henry Selden ’22
Henry Selden ‘22 is a Communication and Studio Art double major from Fairfield, Conn. After graduation, he is planning to continue growing and expanding his clothing brand Lazy Dog.
My artistic practice thus far works by combining my exploration in brand identity, markers, and experimentation into color and form. Our relationship to color is not frequently examined, so I am interested in making my audience aware of their color responses and biases. These responses and biases to color are not only shaped by culture and history, but by subjective experience to the world as well. The ways in which we understand, explore and navigate our physical world is directly influenced by these subjective undertones. Although these may be subconscious understandings and interpretations, they are important to uncover, observe and examine.
My practice has primarily utilized abstraction at its core, almost as a sort of organized chaos. This allows for a method of cyclical experimentation rather than scientific. The process of hiding, repetition, layering, and mark making all hold a distinct place within my work and push back against Joseph Albers’ geometric experimentation, further exploring color and material relationships within environments. With retrospection on the Bauhaus movement, I hope to provide a more contemporary approach to examining and experimenting with color theory.
Artists such as Jeongmee and Matthieu Venot also serve as inspiration in my work, using photography and installation in relation to color as a means of challenging our color biases. I’m fascinated by Kaws and Christo as well, specifically, the art of interaction within public space. The translation of my works from private to public force the viewer to interact, offering a new avenue for dialogue regarding gender expectations.
Charlie Song ’22
Charlie Song ’22 (QianTong) is a Studio Art and Economics double major from Shanghai, China. After graduating from Denison, Charlie plans to go back to China to spend time with his family and friends and hopes to travel and maintain his artistic and studio practices in the future.
My final project is about ‘tiny memories.’ Big memories tend to be written, while small memories refer to details and jokes that are often overlooked. So my project is trying to preserve these ‘tiny memories’ because they tend to disappear with the passing of people. But it is these ‘tiny memories’ that make each individual a unique individual. There is a French term Déjà vu (Already Seen), which means a sense of sight, a feeling of deja vu. Such a feeling is often difficult to describe in words, but I want to use my art to describe this sense of sight. Maybe when we are faced with artwork, we feel that we have experienced the exact same scene before.
“Beauty exists in the shadow ripples and light and darkness produced by things. Night pearls can emit brilliance when placed in dark prescriptions. Gemstones lose their charm when exposed to sunlight. Without the effect of shadows, there is no beauty.” Here Tanizaki Junichiro. I agree with this view, everything, including art, should not always be perfect, sometimes broken things are just as good, and perfect objects do not exist in my work, rusted rings; bitten chocolate; outdated Toys; broken glass; I seal up in resin, and when I see them again, I can recall the stories that happened to them.
I really want to keep the things I once owned, but many things will change their appearance after the baptism of time, that is to say, it is no longer what I remembered. Things are like this, and people are like this. So, I hope to seal my memory with resin and make a sculpture to keep it the way it is in my memory.