Seniors install final pieces

Hannah Bartman

As another academic year comes to a close, seniors throughout all disciplines have worked hard to provide a capstone to their Whitman experience in the form of a thesis. All 14 senior art majors have a unique task in that they must create a whole series of work that will be open to the public in the Sheehan gallery for the remainder of the year, opening at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 24.

Inevitably it’s close to impossible to discuss the complexities and artistic vision shown by each of the works in the show, but it is fair to assume that the pieces shown are a representation of each artist’s navigation through their education as an artist up to this point.

“I think that one of the things I like about this show and this group a lot is that when I look at it, I don’t see any of the faculty’s hand in this, I see all of their hands,” said Professor of Art Charles Timm-Ballard.

Natalie Shaw is one senior art major who describes her mixed media paintings as “constructed landscapes that draw references from romantic landscape art, renaissance painting and early medieval religious art.”

“This is the first time I’ve done something that I don’t feel like I’m really done with,” said Shaw. “I feel like I could make more paintings like this, and this is the first time I’ve felt like that with a series of works.”

Shaw working on her final piece. Photo contributed by Maddison Coons.
Shaw working on her final piece. Photo contributed by Maddison Coons.

Shaw describes the evolution into her current style as a kind of natural process in which she let her innate interest in certain images take importance above her initial construction of meaning. This flow from content to idea is something that she thinks both senior seminar professors, Assistant Professor of Art Rick Martinez and Timm-Ballard, stressed for their students.

“When this semester started I wanted to focus on making things that I liked. So I thought of things that I liked and that was old paintings, gold things, and gods and religious figures, and I put all those things together to see what came out of it,” said Shaw. “It was probably the best place for me to start because I was able to define my direction pretty early on in the semester.”

Eddy Vasquez is another senior art major who uses the medium of book arts to relay his message. In a similar way to Shaw, Vasquez started with the fascination of the way that book arts required his “full-focus” in order to create the precise intricacies of the six books that he has on display in the gallery.

“I’m drawn to the book as an object of literacy; it’s the most effective way to tell a story because it’s all contained in these pages and you just have to open it,” said Vasquez. “It’s a container of knowledge, like an encyclopedia, and it’s there forever if you take care of them.”

Vasquez’s books discuss issues of a social concern, such as surveillance and physical and semantic borders, as well as themes of a personal sentiment. In order to discuss these issues, though, the physical space and presentation of the piece is inherent in its meaning.

The senior art majors pose for a photo to advertise the events. Photo contributed by Maddison Coons.
The senior art majors pose for a photo to advertise the events. Photo contributed by Maddison Coons.

“My intention was find book structures that tell a story by themselves and that can stand on their own, and I think they do,” he said.

12 other artists will show work at the gallery, exhibiting a range of media and provocative ideas. Their diversity and complexity, as Timm-Ballard notes, should not be missed.

“This group in particular has some pretty intensive projects that are very labor intensive and complicated,” he said. “They’re really supportive of each other, and I think the level of work is pretty outstanding.”