by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson; Photos by Dan Loh
Senior year is the time when all that Dickinson students have learned coalesces into ambitious research and creative projects. For those majoring in art & art history, it’s an opportunity to collaborate on a big venture—one that sharpens their soft and hard skills and readies them for professional life.
In the case of studio art majors, that means a joint exhibition of new works that have been rigorously critiqued by peer and professional working artists. For art history majors, senior year means a jointly curated show in The Trout Gallery, complete with a deeply researched, professional-quality catalogue.
The Goodyear Gallery, all decked out for the preview exhibition. Photo by Dan Loh.
First up: The studio art works-in-progress exhibition, opening Dec. 1 and continuing through Dec. 10 in the Goodyear Gallery, is a sneak peek at the final thesis exhibition to come in the spring.
The class of 2023’s Kate Altman, Nate Chaves, Josie Cook, FaSade Fagoroye, Stephanie Henderson, Caitlyn Longest, Anika Naimpally, Belle O'Shaughnessy, Matthew Presite, Olivia Schapiro, Iris Shaker-Check and Han Trinh are up for the challenge, say their professor, Eleanor Conover, assistant professor of art & art history. “This is an energetic and impressive class of seniors who have, as a group and as individuals, taken a deep dive into the studio this fall,” says Conover, who assigns readings and leads discussions and group critiques that help students think deeply about their processes, their work and emerging themes.
“A lot of the works are loosely in dialogue with each other,” says O'Shaughnessy, whose process-driven sculptures seek to obscure familiar, natural shapes and patterns to explore the tensions between opposing energies, with an eye toward issues relating to sexuality, gender, the body and spirituality. As she notes, it’s fascinating and gratifying to see both conceptual ideas and visual elements emerge in different ways throughout the group, as the artists draw inspiration from shared readings and discussions and from each other’s work and then interpret those creative sparks in unique but related ways.
“It has really been amazing to see, as we've set up our show, not only the variety of different mediums and styles but also everyone's individual art-making process. Seeing the relationship between old, reworked and even entirely new pieces is just super exciting,” says Fagoroye, who weaves adapted folk and fairy tales through drawings, collage and paintings and has enjoyed seeing her peers’ and her own work in new light this semester.
But the best part, Fagoroye says, is the supportive creative vibe. “Everyone really is so supportive of each other. We all want to see each other produce really amazing stuff and show it off at the end,” she explains. “That alone has created an environment where were all really comfortable bouncing off new ideas and giving honest constructive criticism.”
Ogata Gekkō (1859–1920), Monkey Reaching for Moon, 1920s. Woodblock print, ink and color on paper, 9¾ x 10¼ in. (24.77 x 26.04 cm). Trout Gallery, 2021.12.
Mark your calendars now for the March 3 opening of the art history senior seminar exhibition at The Trout Gallery! Ellie Mariani, Sydney Nguyen and Ava Zadrima, all of the class of 2023, have been hard at work all semester under the direction of Ren Wei, assistant professor of art & art history, to select, research and write about works by East Asian artists.
The exhibition highlights exquisite woodblock prints depicting birds, insects, flowers and animals that honored an ancient artistic tradition, while also adding modern methods and techniques. These works were created primarily for the 20th-century Western market.
A key to the project is the professional-quality catalogue of joint research, which the students research, write, edit and design, working in concert with Dickinson’s professional design services and print staff. In addition to working together to select the works and create the catalogue, the students must also jointly design the exhibition itself, choosing everything from layout and flow to wall color and text. Then they must professionally hang the show flawlessly.
“This experience has broadened my understanding of East Asian art and has provided me with the opportunity to learn the curatorial field,” says Zadrima, who particularly admires the philosophical underpinnings of a Ohara Koson’s woodblock of two monkeys and two butterflies. “It places me in a unique position to jumpstart my career before finishing my undergraduate studies.”
Published December 1, 2022