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A Peek Behind the Scenes: New Works Revealed During Preview Art Exhibition

Studio-art majors in the class of '22 pose with Associate Professor of Art Todd Arsenault in front of the Goodyear Gallery, ahead of their midyear gallery show. Photo by Dan Loh.

Studio-art majors in the class of '22 pose with Associate Professor of Art Todd Arsenault in front of the Goodyear Gallery, ahead of their midyear gallery show. Photo by Dan Loh.

Exhibit lifts curtain to show creative process at work

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson; video by Joe O'Neill

The class of ’22’s Erin Clarke, Molly Darcy, Rebecca Fox, Marja van Mierlo, Bethany Petrunak and Cristian Tineo have been taking big risks this fall—stretching themselves creatively, gaining new skills and challenging each other to create the best works of their student careers. Beginning today, Nov. 19, they’ll reveal the fruits of that labor as they launch the Studio Art Seminar: Works in Progress exhibition.

Works in Progress is the first of two exhibitions the student-artists will present this year as part of their yearlong senior studio-art thesis seminar. The midyear exhibition begins tonight, Nov. 19, with a 5:30 p.m. reception in the Goodyear Gallery, and it continues through Dec. 11.

The seminar is a graduation requirement for all studio-art majors at Dickinson. Students must not only create works, but also learn to select, hang and display artworks and collaborate on an overall theme, an exhibition design and a full-color catalogue. According to Associate Professor of Art Todd Arsenault, who leads the first half of the 2021 seminar, students typically kick into high gear right out of the gate. 

“The fall semester is intense—the students are pulled in many directions,” Arsenault explains, “and the goal during the fall is to explore material and conceptual aspects of artistic practice. We want to see students experiment and take risks that help them develop their voice.”

At the close of the fall semester, the student-artists present their unfolding work to the campus community. For the seniors, it's a trial run of sorts-- a chance to sharpen technical skills, practice speaking about their work with nonartists and artists alike and solicit additional feedback. For gallery visitors, the preview show offers a behind-the-scenes peek at the hard work and alchemy at play during the months leading up to a major artistic event.

As Fox notes, the students benefit greatly from practical art-world perspectives, courtesy of their seminar professors, who themselves are professional artists. Fox, who'll present ceramic and oil works in the show, says that's invaluable to her as she plans a career in the arts. “I've learned so much about both the process of making art and about living as an artist, and I feel significantly more confident in my plans after Dickinson,” she says.

The students also learn a great deal from each other—in part because every senior studio-art major at Dickinson enjoys personal gallery space--and communal gathering spots--in Goodyear Building. Tineo notes that while he solicits feedback and help from inside and outside of the Goodyear walls, he's grateful for the conversations, critiques, support and camaraderie he's found among Goodyear classmates and professors. "The more time I spent in Goodyear, the more I got out of it," he says.

Now, the student-artists are thrilled to share their newest creations with nonartists and artists alike.

“I'm excited for the Works in Progress show because I've worked so hard this semester,” says Petrunak, whose mixed-media work explores themes of gender identity and body image. “It feels cathartic to share this work with my professors and friends after hiding out in the studio for so long.”

Tonight’s opening reception for the Works in Progress senior-studio-art seminar show begins at 5:30 p.m. The exhibition continues through Dec. 11; gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday, 3-5 p.m.; and Saturday, 2-5 p.m.


Published November 18, 2021