Show your best work. That’s the instruction 13 William & Mary students were given a year ago when charged with creating a show to display their artwork at the upcoming Senior Art Exhibition.
Simple enough. Or so
“I’ve been working on the production and pieces for this exhibition throughout the entire year,” said Katie Herzfeld. “Some of the work I created during my sophomore and junior years; some I’m still working on now.
“I’m not sure what’s going in or how many pieces I’ll be exhibiting. I know there will be at least nine – probably more, depending on my production.”
How many pieces to include in the allocated gallery space? Which pieces are good, but just not good enough to display campus-wide? It’s a conundrum Herzfeld and her classmates are facing – and with good reason. The annual Senior Art Exhibition is a final requirement for those students completing a major in studio art. This year’s show is entitled “Strange Balance: Striking Rhythm,” and will kickoff with a public reception to be held Friday, May 4, from 6 – 8 p.m. in Andrews Gallery.
Professor Marlene Jack is teaching this year’s senior seminar class. She says the exhibition is to teach students how to present a body of work that demonstrates his/her own particular focus and aesthetic approach to visual ideas using two-and-three dimensional media.
“The exhibition demonstrates the culmination of students’ knowledge and experience in art up to this point in their life,” said Jack. “In this respect, it also represents the closing of this chapter, as they now move forward to the next.”
Herzfeld, who loves to dance and works part-time as a personal trainer, creates mainly 3-D sculptures. Her work consists of metal bronze figural sculptures varying in size – her largest weighs 40 pounds – geometric welded steel, two wooden figures and a large-scale charcoal painting.
“I’m kind of all over the place,” she says, laughing, her vibrant red hair softly bouncing against her well-toned shoulders.
“My inspiration comes from my love of dance and working with the figure as it moves and is seen in motion,” she continued. “All of my pieces call back to the figure as it moves – the rhythm of the lines come back to dance and how the body flows.”
Classmate Stacy Lewis is displaying a series of skeletal sculptures she conceived during bronze pours at the foundry. She says the production of art is easy. The challenge of this exhibition is synthesizing the ideas behind her work to craft a compelling artist statement. Professional artists use this tool as a verbal representation to explain their creativity and thought process.
“I hate talking about my work,” said Lewis. “I don’t like trying to analyze my work and to put it down into words. I just want people to look at my work and experience it for themselves.”
Each set of artwork in the exhibition is unique and poetically expresses the student’s personality and style. Kat Milberger, for example, focuses on etchings and the medium of charcoal to convey moods in her narrative figure drawings.
“I like to carry themes from what I’ve learned in my sociology major over into art,” said Milberger. “It gets me excited; that’s why I like to draw people.”
She also attributes her inspiration from a 2011 study abroad trip to Florence, Italy. There, she had the chance to take a “loosely structured” six-hour art class where she developed her passion to express moods.
“There’s a strangeness to my work,” explained Milberger. “I explore power dynamics, sexual tension and questions between the figures in the frame."
Faculty from the Art & Art History Department have provide guidance and expertise to the student artists throughout the yearlong process. In the fall, senior reviews were held and students were asked to present their artwork to the faculty. Students gave oral presentations and spoke about each piece in detail.
Nicole Brzozowski is a 2-D concentration working with a jumbo-sized chunk of charcoal. She said faculty feedback from the senior review was helpful to nail down her concept.
“I like using really heavy darks and really bright lights,” said Brzozowski. “In senior reviews it came up that my bright light is sort of like an interrogation light. I like to play up the contrast.”
Emotions are mixed about the opening public reception. Anticipation. Excitement. Nervousness.
“All four years I’ve been working toward this art major and I have been dreading the senior exhibition,” said Herzfeld.
Now, she admits to being surprisingly excited for the show.
“I’m happy to have all my work on display,” she said, “and basking in the glory of having completed all this work and being an artist.”
The 2012 Senior Art Exhibition, “Strange Balance: Striking Rhythm,” will be on display Wednesday, May 2 – Sunday, May 13 in Andrews Hall. The exhibition is free and open to the public.