by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
The final year on campus is an intense one for studio art majors—a year filled with weekly discussions and lectures, regular one-on-one meetings with studio art and art history professors, critiques by visiting artists and untold hours of studio time, as they race against the clock to create a definitive thesis-level body of work. By the end of the fall semester, the student artists are ready take a trial run at their final exhibition. And as the spring semester draws to a close, they’re ready to curate, design, hang and present their senior thesis exhibition in the Trout Gallery, complete with a full-color exhibition book.
Despite, or perhaps because of, this hard work, the students invariably report that they find a meaningful sense of community—and, in many cases, an even deeper appreciation for art and art-making. Based on the title the class of ’22 art majors have selected for their final exhibition, this year is no exception to that rule.
Photo by Dan Loh.
That title, “Less Than Three,” refers to a commonly used emoji that combines the “less than” mathematical symbol and the number 3 to form a heart, like so: <3. According to Professor of Art Anthony Cervino, who leads this year’s spring senior studio art seminar, the students chose the heart emoji as their exhibition theme to celebrate their shared love for art-making as well as to invite emotional responses in the viewer, along with connections to underlying themes that include critiques of material and digital culture.
The Less Than Three senior studio art exhibition will be open to the public April 29 through May 21. All six of the student artists will attend the April 29 opening reception and will be available to answer questions and discuss their work. The band Pair of Aces will perform throughout the reception.
Here’s a sneak peek at the student artists and their work.
Clarke, Erin; @erin_clarke08 (Sunset); oil paint on canvas. Photo by Andy Bale.
A painter who works in oil, Clarke discovered her love of art-making in high school and has since displayed and sold her works. Her paintings reflect her interest in social media, consumerism and issues related to body image. She is interested in finding ways to combine her background in studio art with her love of digital content management.
“Oftentimes, we are not aware of how products we see daily on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok slowly seep into our reality and how we see the world," she writes. "This is balanced by the ability we have on social media to share content, connect and express oneself. I stand in the middle of the positives and negatives surrounding these ideas and ask viewers to question how they use these platforms and how this technology may be affecting them."
Darcy, Molly; [detail from] Bedsheets (self-portrait) 1.1-4.4; 16 digital prints. Photo by Andy Bale.
Darcy is a multimedia student artist and aspiring game designer with a background in computer science and mathematics. That background brings an elegant analytical element—and a self-described “instruction manual-based” approach into her art, which focuses on identity, transness and queerness.
“My work implores the viewer to question their comfort in their identity … I want people to uncover the truest versions of themselves and find confidence in it,” she writes.
Fox, Rebecca; Blankies Lined Up; ceramic. Photo by Andy Bale.
Fox is multimedia artist whose recent work focuses on ceramics, though she also paints in oil. She takes scraps of knitted and crocheted fabric—a material she associates with memories of her grandmother, who taught her to knit and sew—and embeds them in porcelain pieces. When the piece is in the kiln, the fabric burns away and leaves unique patterns in the ceramic form. The final work brings to mind notions of fragility, memory, family connections and gendered notions about art and craft.
“When I begin each sculpture, I am calling on my personal connections to the material to inspire and produce the framework for each piece. There is a tense emotional connection to this legacy. On one hand, each object I make reminds me of familial love and support, but each piece has a gravity to it as well; a weight which is felt every time a traditionally ‘women’s craft’ is seen as less than fine art,” she writes. “I want to bring my memories to the forefront of my art while providing the space for others to attach their own memories to these knit pieces.”
Petrunak, Bethany; Do you know who you are?; acrylic yarn, string, basket, mirror. Photo by Andy Bale.
A student of art history, studio art and philosophy who co-curated the art history exhibition Queering the Muse: Identity and Desire in the Photography of Lissa Rivera, Petrunak is a multimedia artist and published poet who’s interested in the physical expression of queer identities and gender and gender identity as expressed and experienced in the body. They create interactive art—works that are meant to be touched, moved or even worn. Like Fox, Petrunak uses knit fabric to also convey critiques of notions of gender and craft vs. art. In Petrunak’s work, wearable art also hearkens to the ways in which clothing provides a creative outlet and a means of personal expression, particularly within the LGBTQ community.
“I use my art to explore and make sense of the dissatisfaction and disconnect between the desire to conform to traditional beauty standards (both feminine or masculine) and the ability to leave the cisgender view of the body behind completely,” Petrunak writes. “I’m looking to move away from the cisgender view that trans bodies must be conform to the desired cisgender bodies or else they have failed the purpose of transitioning at all.”
Tineo, Cristian Antonio Jr. [detail from]; I Am Here, So Are You; graphite on paper, laser prints. Photo by Andy Bale.
A student leader who’s passionate about public art and the ways art can be used to advocate for and create safe spaces for all, Tineo draws from his personal experiences as a Dickinsonian, as well as his research of archival materials related to LGBTQ+ history at Dickinson. In mining collections of photos—historical and personal—he creates art that rejects past and current objectification and marginalization in art and lived experience, reclaims space for the marginalized within the Western narrative, asserts the idea that we all hold the potential to imagine new futures and illuminates his own perspective of the student experience at Dickinson. Tineo plans a career that uplifts the communities that have shaped him.
“I think it’s essential that we are actively learning about those who have come before us, so we can build a better community for those who come after us,” Tineo writes.
Van Mierlo, Marja; Purple Void; acrylic paint on paper, acrylic sheet, wood. Photo by Andy Bale.
With passions for both art and biology, van Mierlo creates familiar—but, intentionally, not quite identifiable—objects out of glass, textiles, wood, paint and other materials. Using both drawing and sculpture techniques and layering, she creates works with both 2-D and 3-D elements that manipulate the viewer’s perception of line and space.
“This is all part of my larger investigation of complicated concepts, including abstraction, space and systems. My goal is to invite viewers to embrace an awareness of, as well as to question, ephemeral spatial relationships,” she writes.
In the case of a work on which paint is applied to layered glass, the work refers to her interest in biology and ecology—and the experience of viewing materials under a high-magnification microscope. Other work refers to anatomical diagrams, medical imaging, topography mapping and more.
Learn more about this exhibition, gallery hours and more at the Trout Gallery.
Published April 25, 2022