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by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Art-making is sometimes referred to as a roll of the dice—many artists cite serendipity and divine intervention as the critical sparks that set their inspiration aflame—but it’s also an exercise in critical evaluation, as each artist must continually evaluate and reevaluate his or her work as it slowly takes shape. That was the observation made, slightly tongue-in-cheek, by the class of 2015’s eight studio-art majors, as they produced bodies of work throughout the academic year.
Their resulting senior exhibition is titled “Concentrate and Ask Again,” a nod to the classic toy, the Magic 8-Ball, and to the mixture of creative alchemy and informed discipline that underlies the exhibition's signature works.
Like their classmates in other majors, Meghan Abercrombie, Anna Ersenkal, Jenna Hess, Lauren Holtz, Shelby Kalamar, Cassie Lier, Molly Thorne and Carley Zarzeka began working on their senior projects at the start of the academic year, meeting weekly for group discussions and critiques of their ongoing work. They also immersed themselves in the contemporary art world through lectures, readings and field trips to museums and galleries, and they received individualized critiques from both faculty members and visiting artists throughout the academic year.
The students gave the Dickinson community a sneak-peek of their works-in-progress at the end of the fall semester—an experience that allowed the graduating seniors a chance to shift gears after seeing their work in the gallery space, if need be, while also providing them with the technical skills it takes to stage a professional exhibition, from designing the space to framing, hanging, lighting and promoting the work. Countless studio hours later, they’re ready for prime time.
Associate Professor of Studio Art Anthony Cervino, who led this year’s senior studio-art seminar, says that when it comes to depicting what it takes to produce a body of work that represents all each student has learned in their art classes at Dickinson, the exhibition's Magic 8-Ball metaphor is an apt one.
“Whether by critiques with mentors, conversations with peers or simply personal reflection, the constant act of ‘concentrating and asking again’ in the studio is essential,” he says. “Have these eight students produced a sincere and reflective body of artwork? All Signs Point to Yes!”
The senior exhibition runs through May 16 at The Trout Gallery (Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.). Also be sure to check out a separate Studio Student Show, held through May 1 in the Goodyear Gallery, which spotlights the best artwork from all of this year’s studio-art classes.
Published April 29, 2015