Winter Art Salon exhibits new media and technology

Hannah Bartman

The eighth annual Student Winter Art Salon opened at the Sheehan Gallery last Saturday, Jan. 24 and will remain open until Feb. 13. The art pieces featured are all completed in studio art classes at Whitman and the pieces displayed were chosen by three studio art faculty members. This year’s salon holds an unprecedented amount of new media and technology, representing a medium of art that perhaps has not gained a significant amount of attention in previous salon years.

“We always have a handful [of digital pieces] but this is a really bright year for new media,” said Exhibitions and Collections Manager Kynde Kiefel. “I feel like in the past, new media has had an uphill battle in certain museums and galleries in the sense that [new media] is not always viewed the same way as say painting or sculpture, methods that have been around for centuries. I feel like putting digital pieces on a wall next to a painting or a drawing says this is an equal part of the conversation too.”

Two rooms in the exhibit were given exclusively to new media projects. One piece invited guests to type on a keyboard and listen to the accompanying sound that responded to each letter. Another project let the viewer type on the keyboard and watch the accompanying visual image respond to the letter on the keyboard.

“I like that there’s not just painting and photos but more interactional pieces,” said Sheehan gallery employee senior Molly Streeter. “I have not seen as many new media pieces in previous years.”

The curation of the works is also a vital component of any museum, as it creates new forms of communication between mediums and pieces.

“The way that you set the exhibit, such as the order of the pieces and the way [the pieces] connect together or contrast all makes you feel a different way when you see it,” said student curator and first-year Ludmila de Brito. “It gives it all a different atmosphere.”

Additionally students who had pieces featured in the exhibit were impressed by additional context that was added to some of their work through the curation.

“It’s really exciting in certain pieces, such as juxtaposing the photographs with the ceramic. The curation brings new life to certain works,” said sophomore Fiona Bennitt.

Kiefel also relates that the student salon is always very highly attended by Whitman students but also by community and Walla Walla Community College members.

“I feel like part of why we showcase student art to campus via the Salon is to highlight the need for visual conversation with and among our students and to offer additional layers of what art and art-making can mean in an academic setting,” said Kiefel.  “Also exhibiting [art from] people who are biology majors and religion majors is a way of giving volume to a variety of voices and showing that non-studio art majors are also very capable of this kind of visual expression.”

Eight merit awards are chosen by the three art faculty members out of the selection of pieces in the art show. Additionally, one people’s choice award is chosen and will be announced on the last day of the show, Feb. 13. The salon is free, open to public and represents a tradition of student art that supports and encourages student creative expression.

“I am very proud of the students and the work that they produced,” said senior adjunct assistant professor of art Charly Bloomquist.