Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Senior Art Majors Prepare for Exhibition in the Sheehan Gallery

Prior to the Photo by Eddie Buchko

Sheehan Gallery will be bursting with senior art of all styles and forms beginning April 19 for the Senior Thesis Art Exhibition. All the senior art majors’ senior projects will be on display, full of the creativity each project took to produce. 

One senior, Lillice Wilson, does large-scale immersive art that captures the attention of multiple senses. They creatively blend various types of content to transmit the full range of emotions through the work.

“I do installation sculpture, which means I’m creating an experience. It is something you walk in, and no individual piece is just a piece, it is all part of a cohesive experience. I created this black room and everything will look kind of like glossy, where it’s kind of hand-sewn, the walls are all sitting together, and I have the stage and pews. I’m meeting with an 11-year-old [who] is going to do all of the audio for me. She is reading out some ramblings and writings,” Wilson said. 

Xayla Stoppani, another senior completing their thesis, highlighted the impact of the physical space by deploying various types of visual mediums. 

“I’m doing my senior thesis on being queer and purity culture, the Mormon religion, wilderness programs and residential treatment centers. I’m [focusing] on religious treatment centers and how harmful they are to troubled queer youth. So I have conceptual photography, sculpture and printmaking in a [crafted] physical room,” Stoppani said. 

Anna Stone, a senior art and art history double major, found their inspiration through working with their sculptures and finding new meaning within them. This meant that the piece grew and accumulated new meanings as work on it progressed. 

“I am creating miniature monuments and memorials to myself. It didn’t start as that; I wanted to create models of something [like] public monuments. Then a lot of the motifs that I am working with, I realize are things that are in my own life,” Stone said. “One of [the monuments] is a pointe shoe on one side, and a little coffin on the other. They are held together by sharp hinges. I’m also making ceramic sculptures and once they are fired, they are saved for a long time, thousands of years. In that way, I can monumentalize parts of my life, while also like distancing them from myself.” 

Cas Alexander blends their artwork with their minor, displaying their passion for astronomy and science. This interdisciplinary emphasis has helped them find unique ways to make and display ceramics to blend the celestial with the earth-bound clay.

“Specifically, I’m working on stuff that combines my interest in art with my interest in astronomy. I’m thinking about how interactions and forces between objects in space mirror forces and interactions between people and communities in our lived everyday experience. I’m making lots and lots of small components that then go together in the end to make this one big cohesive installation,” Alexander said. 

Many seniors emphasized the value of art’s cathartic nature which allowed theses to develop interpersonally and alter artists’ relationships with themselves. 

“Dedicating something to myself … is healing. My projects are pretty gory and it’s scary in some ways. I think that is, for me a better way of distancing some feelings or experiences, through putting them into music,” Stone said. “I grew up dancing and that’s something that feels like a lifestyle super far away from me now. Pointe shoes are an important part but are [also] a coffin for your feet.”

Wilson also draws upon childhood memories and experiences to build her art, translating them and processing them to communicate current experiences. 

“But it’s basically about my experiences growing up Mormon when I was younger, so the experience of religion as a little kid. What is it like having a man in control of your head, constantly feeling like you’re being watched. The [seniors] have been able to have really intense contact with professors and we were a tight-knit community,” Wilson said. 

Those interested in these projects and many others should visit the Senior Thesis Art Exhibition’s Opening Ceremony in Sheehan Gallery on April 19. This exhibition will last around a month and is a highlight for the seniors’ year-long project that is the culmination of their art careers at Whitman. 

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