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Seeking Form: Alumni Art Exhibit

Arts And Entertainment

Seeking Form: Alumni Art Exhibit


Participating Alumni Artists: Sophia Anthony, Kelsey Baker, Adam Bork, Lauren Cardenas, Norma Clark, Meili Corbin, Sarah Fox, Becca Gordon, Xan Koonce, Alyssa Lester, Paloma Mayorga, Lauren Muskara, Jake Pawelek

For the majority of our semester, Southwestern has hosted an alumni exhibit in the Fine Arts building, showcasing graduates’ exploration of different mediums in the world beyond our University. As a Junior having not experienced many on-campus events during the year and a half school was mostly virtual, this was a new experience for me and I was excited to delve into what I had only seen through the window on my way to class. The gallery includes awe-inspiring work by graduates of the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts programs in painting, drawing, and printmaking who have studied primarily with Professor Victoria Star Varner from 1985 to the present. Their works express various contemporary art approaches including high realism, abstraction, neo-minimalism, conceptual art references, and post-conceptual approaches. All of that is to say, their art is a multi-media conglomerate of striking, harrowing, and enlightening experiences that expand past the small gallery room they occupy. Every piece had a story and work taking notes on, but I’ll highlight three that caught my particular attention.

 Sophia Anthony, Lineup 1, Oil on linen, 8” x 6”, 2019

In the pictured snapshot from Sophia Anthony’s oil on linen pieces included at the beginning of this article, three glossy and dismal faces stare back at the viewer. One can’t help but pause at the forlorn scene, exhaustion, and disappointment clear in the expressions of Anthony’s painting. Anthony explores conversations on honorific paintings and repressive arrest photography by “Counteract[ing] the subjugating effect of mugshot photography through the meticulous act of painting, instead revealing the subject’s emotion and individuality.” Reading her description of the oil paintings made me consider the degrading process of arrest and incarceration, and the lack of compassion to humans the second the prison system closes down on them, even down to mugshot photography.

Sarah Fox, Bruisers, Cyanotype, ink, crayon, on cotton, 32” x 64”, 2019

Right next to these Anthony’s work hung Sarah Fox’s Bruisers, with Cyanotype, ink, and crayon on cotton. Two centaur creatures are pictured running across a blue field, one with its eye open and the other with its eye closed. I would not have had a clue where to begin in guessing the complex backstory to this, so I read Fox’s description; “The strange little centaurs that fill the work, fight, play, wrestle; but they also sleep, dream, pick flowers and hug. They are fighters, but they are also lovers. Tender and sweet, but tough and strong. As with femininity, the truth about masculinity and little boys – I imagine – lies in the in-between. Humans are far more complex and beautiful than society’s gender norms allow for.The playful, childlike wonder of Fox’s installations brought a smile to my face, despite the slight unease the figures put me in.

Although not pictured in this article, Kelsey Baker, a graduate from 2016, had two head-spinning pieces installed. When walking in, one of the most noticeable aspects of the room was a golden-brown frame placed in the center of the floor with images streaming down onto it from a projector placed above it. Looking down into it feels like seeing into a water well of distorted images and beautiful scenes of ruined buildings and rushing rivers. In Baker’s description of their approach to surreal landscapes and liminal spaces, they described accessing Void-like spaces as an “inv[itation] the viewer to experience a thinning of the veil.” And on the far end of the room, a swirling mass of dark greys and blacks sucked you in towards a spiraling hole. Kelsey Baker had a certain sensation of falling to experiencing their work and added to the intensity of the whole space.

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