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In More Ways Than One

Artwork by Megan Robitaille '17.

Artwork by Megan Robitaille '17. Photo by Andy Bale.

Exhibition explores queer history, performing arts, more

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Some studio-art majors enter senior year with clear plans for their capstone exhibitions, while others’ ideas coalesce over time. But all end up in an artistic place they couldn't initially envision. That’s the alchemy of the senior studio-art seminar, and it gets to the heart of this year’s theme, In More Ways Than One.

As they create a major body of work throughout their final year on campus, studio-art majors offer ideas and critiques, along with professors and visiting artists, creating “a bond and sense of community that transcends the individual,” says Todd Arsenault, associate professor of art & art history. The sense of community among this year's group was particularly strong, and the students encouraged each other to push past perceived limits. The result: diverse works that highlight the group’s collective wisdom and aesthetic, each one gaining new dimensions as part of the whole.

Artwork by Talia Amorosano '17. Photo by Andy Bale.

Artwork by Talia Amorosano '17. Photo by Andy Bale.

Works by Talia Amorosano and Megan Robitaille draw from the performing arts. Amorosano, who double-majors in art and English, reimagines discarded items, like old candy wrappers and furniture as “leftover props from real-life plays” and gives them new life in work that encourages a “heightened awareness of what we humans consume, believe and take for granted.” She adds that the yearlong senior seminar has taught her "that progress is not always linear, that every step, no matter how small or seemingly counterproductive, contributes to personal growth and the formulation of new and interesting ideas."

Artwork by Megan Robitaille '17. Photo by Andy Bale.

Artwork by Megan Robitaille '17. Photo by Andy Bale.

Robitaille took inspiration in her experiences as a dancer. A double major in anthropology and studio art, she depicts movements “through use of line, repetition and layering,” as part of a process she describes a “choreography of the hand.”

Artwork by Willa Hut '17. Photo by Andy Bale.

Artwork by Willa Hut '17. Photo by Andy Bale.

Willa Hut and Rachel Rectenwald use unexpected materials in their work. Hut’s collages, drawings and paintings of mysterious landscapes include works that incorporate elements of magazine images. Each work is designed to reveal itself slowly to the viewer.

Artwork by Rachel Rectenwald '17. Photo by Andy Bale.

Artwork by Rachel Rectenwald '17. Photo by Andy Bale.

Rectenwald's crocheted, abstract shapes transcend the realm of craft, in part through skilled use of color and composition. She invites viewers to touch the works, if they wish.

Artwork by Noah Thompson '17. Photo by Andy Bale.

Artwork by Noah Thompson '17. Photo by Andy Bale.

Noah Thompson’s body of photographs reference the classical, Renaissance, Victorian and postmodern eras and explore queer history and identity. A double major in English and art, Thompson appreciated the chance to sharpen professional-artist skills through this intense creative project, as he and the other students designed a glossy catalogue and prepared and installed two exhibitions: the fall preview show in the Goodyear Gallery and the final exhibition in The Trout Gallery’s larger space.

“Of course, we've been thinking about how our art will fit into The Trout Gallery, but actually seeing it in the space is one of the most satisfying and somewhat shocking parts of the capstone project,” Thompson said, explaining that a viewer’s perception of a work is shaped by a variety of factors, like the scale of the room, proximity to other works, lighting, wall color and exhibition flow. “The most enjoyable part of setting up the show was seeing how my pieces interact with each other and how that changes the narrative of my work.”

It's also enjoyable to see how interacting with fellow artists can change and enhance the artist's work and life, Amoroso adds.

"I have really enjoyed the sense of community among the studio art majors and members of the art department," she says. "It has been so rewarding to get to know so many talented people and to go through the ups and downs of the creative process with supportive and helpfully-critical people by my side."

In More Ways Than One opens Friday, April 28, with a reception in The Trout Gallery, 5-7 p.m., and remains in the gallery through May 20. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Published April 26, 2017