Not Holding Back

Student work is displayed in the Goodyear Gallery.
by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

November 14, 2013

Each spring, seniors in Dickinson's studio-art program present a major exhibition representing all they've learned as artists thus far. It’s a momentous occasion—and a tall order to fill. So in the fall, they present a preview exhibition to help them gear up for the big event.

"It's a big deal, because we frame the pieces, design the gallery, create the catalog, curate the art. Basically, we're running the show," says Molly Leach '14, a charcoal artist who typically draws from life, but has recently traveled into new, surrealistic terrain. "We have a lot of freedom and a lot to do." 

This year's fall exhibition, held Nov. 12 in the Goodyear Studio, showcased works-in-progress by six student-artists under direction of Associate Professor of Art Todd Arsenault '99. And while students and professors got a sneak peek that hinted at the major exhibit to come, the students polished new professional skills, solicited feedback and had a chance to see their works in new--figurative and literal--light.

Emily Lehman '14 says that preparing for and curating a mid-project show kept her on track. "The deadline definitely helped me make creative decisions and solve problems a little more quickly," says Lehman who, after experimenting with abstractions last year, has decided to return to the human form with her latest works. “So now, I have a much clearer idea of where I want to go." 

"The presentation aspect is new to me, since I usually just tack the pieces up on my studio wall," says May Abou-Kahlil '14, who thinks of herself primarily as a printmaker but ventures into new territory this year, creating three-dimensional paper structures that she encases in glass jars. "What I'm learning is that presentation is more time-consuming and more important than I thought." 

In fact, when Abou-Kahlil saw her works displayed in a gallery setting, she was pleasantly surprised. Under gallery lights, her paper-and-glass scenes cast intricate shadows on the wall—a part of the works' composition that she previously couldn't see to full effect.

Arsenault adds that the process of putting work out there for public consumption also helps students learn to consider the ways in which their artworks function in the context of a group exhibit and to identify how their works may be received—something that can be difficult to gauge in the studio. As a result, he says, students often are inspired to shift the focus of their projects after the show, sometimes dramatically. 

Leach says she's ready for whatever creative disruption comes her way. “I’m not sure exactly where I’m going from here, but I’m enjoying the ride,” she says with a grin. “And I’m definitely not holding anything back.”

Be sure to check out the students’ completed works during the spring exhibition (April 25, 5-7 p.m., The Trout Gallery).

See photos from last year's senior show.

**View related events on the current Calendar of Arts.**

Published December 3, 2013