Each year, studio art majors present work in the senior art exhibition in the Beard and Weil Galleries as a culmination of their creative experience at Wheaton. This year’s show, “Departure,” under advisor Associate Professor of Art Patricia Stone, featured diverse work by 16 students, who exhibited drawings, watercolors, prints, photographs, comic illustration, graphic design, painting and sculpture. Students chose the title “Departure” for the exhibition, says Stone, because “they liked the idea of ‘art’ contained in the word, as well as the notion of ‘a point of departure’ where one uses an image or idea as a springboard to produce a new work.” This year’s exhibition showcased use of some unusual materials, including graphic design on snowboards and painting with makeup on cloth. “There was so much to enjoy in this show: humor, surprise, classic beauty, some painful truths, and an impressive level of skill,” notes Professor Stone.
I have always been attracted to the shapes and lines of the body. When I’m working in clay, I find I am able to develop form with the same gestures I’d use when running my hands along the curves of a nude body. My hands seem to undulate over the clay without thought, as if the clay is guiding my hands. The soft, sensual, and moldable quality of the clay enhances the connection between sculpting and the touch of the body.
As I grew up, I became more aware of body composition and different body shapes. Through adolescence my passion for the human form increased, and at this age I was becoming more fascinated with the shape of my own body as well as those of the opposite sex. In each of my sculptures there is an intrinsic sensuality that influences the form. All of the curves and planes of the forms are influenced by the sexuality of the female body. Gradually it has become apparent that this sensuality is drawn from the experience and desire for human touch
Though my sculptures are most strongly influenced by my interaction with the female form, each piece is relatively androgynous. The apparent male presence in each piece may come directly from my self-image. It is human nature to be fascinated with the shape of the body, and to want to touch and feel the form of another. I hope to target this human desire in my viewers, so they might be tempted to put their hands on each piece and run their fingers along the lines of the forms.
Elle Van Cott
Sculptural forms speak to me especially as an artist. I find calmness in the creation of the hands-on 3D design process and in how materials start as separate entities and finish as something complete and new. What my collection of sculptures represents is akin to a self-portrait of sorts: I am reflected in these lattice-like creations as much as I would be in a mirror or in a photograph.
Beginning last semester in an independent study with Professor Cunard, I began exploring these wooden forms. I enjoyed how the thin balsa wood pieces seemed delicate and fragile, as if they could break with one touch, but when fit together into a new form they were transformed into something strong and powerful. It wasn’t until this current semester, however, that I truly became familiar with how deeply personal these sculptures could be.
To me, the definition of art lies not only in the whole of the finished product but also in the birth of an idea, in working with the materials, in the trial and error, the mistakes, and the pure enjoyment of making something with your own hands. My sculptures define art in that way. They are more than simply wooden structures on the wall; they are a representation of my self as an artist. I am drawn to art that exudes simplistic forms that at the same time create interesting lines and shapes. This goes back to who I am as a person. I am a complex being who is also organized and methodical, just as are my sculptures. When seen initially and separately, my collection can be viewed simply as balsa wood, spray paint, hot glue and embroidery string or wooden lines held together by glue. When considered as a whole, they are instead complicated, intricate, and transformative.
Mnemosyne : Memory in Making
How is memory formed, maintained, and shared? Are our memories a collection of communal experiences or individually formed? What happens when you lose memory – is it gone forever or do others become its caretaker? I began to ask these questions when my paternal grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. My family watched him over the years as his memories were slowly and silently consumed. More recently, my maternal grandmother has developed dementia. The fear of this disease is present on both sides of my family, as is the paranoia amongst my parents, aunts, and uncles that their lives will succumb to a similar fate. And then there is my own fear – fear of both bearing witness to more loss amongst those I love, and the possibility that I too will spiral into nothingness. I firmly believe that our identities as human beings are formed, exercised, and performed through our memories and experiences. Without memory, what are we? Who are we?
In this exploration of printmaking I use two intaglio techniques: mezzotint and collagraph to create a series that grapples with the elusiveness of memory. Each object symbolizes a family member and is therefore imbued with the memory of that person. The mementos are an immediate visual link and mnemonic device that allows for reflection and meditation on each person and their relationship to myself.
I am intrigued by the idea of transference: the passing on of cognitive and genetic memory from one person to another, and how an individual is formed through this. The practice of printmaking echoes this action, and I am able to layer and repeat forms through the series. With this transference comes the pressure of upholding these people’s memories and exercising their lives through my own. There is a duality to these traits, while they have shaped my identity, they also create turmoil and could eventually be responsible for complete loss. I have created this series to honor my family, to enhance my own understanding of my identity, and to confront my own fear of memory loss.
People have always said that shoes are a metaphor for the person who walks in them. Shoes tell so many stories—who the person is, where they are from and where they have been. They vary in size, color, design; they are created based on culture, and fit the ever-changing needs of the public. There are shoes that are functional and some that are visually appealing, but the main purpose is their use: to protect our feet. I have always been interested in sociology and what it tells us about the people we meet. We, the humans of the developing world, are con-stantly changing and growing, but our shoes tell a story. Not only do they walk the grounds of our diverse planet, but also they reveal characteristics pertaining to one’s personality. For my project, I decided to assimilate history and culture of international shoes to encapsulate the allegorical lives of people all over the world. This precious collection of shoes is part of the archives at Wheaton College. It consists of a variety of shoes from across the world that over time have become treasured objects.
Since a young age I have learned the importance of travel, and found myself intrigued by the wonders it provides. I make it my first priority to reach realms of this earth that will enrich my living and open my eye to diverse cultures worldwide. The life changing experience that brought me to this topic of interest for my portfolio was my time spent studying abroad in Rome, Italy. Not only was I able to explore the city walls, I was also able to travel across Europe. I walked the streets of so many cities such as Edinburgh, London, Paris, Budapest and Amsterdam—all with such unique heritages that lead me to appreciate and understand where people come from.
I am also attracted to formal elements of the shoes and particularly the elements of design. The visual compositions I have put together not only relay a statement on the diversities of our world, but also are meant to be physically attractive. Each arrangement was carefully constructed to help reinforce the multicultural atmosphere of the shoes. I want people to feel what I feel when they are looking at my photographs—the thrill of being in a new place, filled with countless opportunities.
It is the year 2056.
Earth’s natural resources have been plundered by greedy industrialists to fulfill the needs of the growing masses living on Earth. Brutal conflict rages over what little resources remain. Meanwhile, scientists develop clean fission made possible by elements abundant on the Moon’s surface…
It is the year 2068.
Settlers are shipped to the Moon en masse, in search of Thorium, and a new life. The first settlements are established, and laboratories begin production…
It is the year 2085.
The Moon is a nexus of scientific and artistic creation. The system’s greatest minds and leaders gather on its surface. Unparalleled technological achievements are developed, and happiness prevails on the once desolate lunar surface. On Earth, movements are made to occupy Mars…
It is the year 2113.
War between Earth and Martian troops erupts on the Moon. Arboretums, laboratories and galleries are destroyed. The Moon’s artificial atmosphere is corrupted and poisoned. The dream dies.
It is the year 2115.
Revenge is coming.
People don’t believe that I am adopted. Even through my sister is part Native American and my brother has red hair, they seem to think that we still have the same blood running through our veins. This may be due to the fact that my sister and I share the same affinity for the water or that my brother and I can laugh at just about anything. It might also help that I have inherited my mother’s love of educating children or my father’s sense of humor. However, I never thought that this relation-ship extended farther than my immediate family until I began to carve stone.
My maternal grandfather was raised poor and learned how to construct everything he needed out of wood. He became a carpenter and was able to take an ordinary piece of wood and transform it into something amazing. This ability to look into organic object and bring out form was one that I have always revered and respected. In starting to work with the different pieces of stone, I was pleasantly shocked to find that it was easiest for me to simply put my hands on the piece and let the image inside reveal itself to me. My paternal grandfather possesses an incredible patience that is seen in his passion of training bonsai trees. These trees are decades or even hundreds of years old. He meticulously trains them to grow in the various directions that he chooses. I found this same patience in myself when I would hit a vein in the stone and find the need to guide the stone into a different position. The contrast between these two guiding forces in my life has become visible in the stone pieces I have created.
In this series, I have created a garden of stone pieces. I guided these organic pieces of stone into shapes that they would not naturally assume. I found that my inherited personality has been revealed in this medium and I encourage the viewer to interact with these stone pieces.
My lifelong passion for horses seems to follow me wherever I go, flooding the imagery of my artwork. My grandparents gave me riding lessons for Christmas when I was in second grade and I still remember the excitement I felt driving to the barn for the first time. Since then, horses and riding have been a source of comfort and inspiration.
My work in this exhibition is based on a horse race I attended while studying in Ballyvaughan, Ireland, this past summer. As I crouched under the rope that marked the race- course, horses flung earth at me and I was overwhelmed by their power.
I began experimenting with race-horse imagery last semester. I set out to convey the motion and strength of the horses by highlighting the legs flecked with dirt. The contrast of the horses’ smooth muscles and sleek hair, combined with my rough mark-making style with the pen, inspired my search for movement and tension on the paper. One piece of paper did not seem like enough space to capture the sheer power of these animals. I began looking at Eadweard Muybridge and his stop motion photography work with horses as his subject. Through these multi-frame images, Muybridge managed to successfully break down a variety of horse movements, including jumping, trotting, and galloping, while conveying a sense of movement in a series of still images. Unlike Muybridge who captured one horse’s movements over a span of time, I chose to depict many horses in one moment in time.
The movement and strength of these powerful animals captures the intensity of riding itself. My memories and experiences abroad have inspired me to create this work. Hopefully, the viewer will share my inspiration.
This piece was inspired by the beauty we find in everyday life through serendipitous happenings within the daily routine. I have learned that often the most interesting and thought-worthy moments in our lives are those that we do not expect. They are also moments that normally would be seemingly mundane.
When this project began I was inspired by a seemingly simple activity in (some of) our everyday lives: the makeup-removal process. The makeup that I applied to my face early that morning became serendipitously captured on a small cloth square that seemed to hold its own small abstract painting. The patterns, color combinations, and compositions as well as beautiful tones of nudes, beiges, pinks, red, berries, blacks, and browns all came together to create a larger cohesive mix of clouds and splotches of color. The most fascinating thing about this process to me was that this all happened without any intent or deliberation.
I decided to make use of the actual makeup as a medium during the creation process of one of my pieces. This inclusion is significant because it adds to the authenticity of the piece, and also creates some of the rare textures that makeup itself can accurately convey. I also utilized a cloth backdrop as the base of the piece in order to add to the replication of an accurate texture. Alternatively, when displaying the genuine makeup wipes, I wanted to present them in a way that remained simple and true to their existence and origin. While a large part of this piece is focused on the object itself as the artwork, it was also greatly manipulated by me in order to create a specific composition, effective placement, varied selection, aesthetically pleasing display, and subtle rhythms and variations.
I decided that I wanted to not only document the wonder that I felt after contemplating this process, but that I wanted to create a piece that would interpret the small makeup cloths into what I saw them as--their own pieces of abstract art. In this piece, I aimed to capture the actual artifacts as their own artifacts, and then to juxtapose them with my own interpretive work. I wanted to transform an object that would normally be seen as mundane and disposable into a piece that evokes the attention of an audience as well as the beauty that I saw in such a inconsequential item and an often overlooked routine.
For the past year, I have wandered the city grid and stood transfixed at the foot of skyscrapers, tracing contours of cement and steel and framing unions of mass, light, and shadow that speak to an order beneath our human chaos. Whereas in previous series I have sought to piece apart the city, using line to highlight patterns, congruencies stitched into its fabric, the photographs comprised by Framework aim to construct new planes and structures, using the city as a window through which to gaze into dimensions of pure design.
Here, in these unseen dimensions, the city’s industrial hum, electric lights, and swarming inhabitants lie far below, and all that remains is harmony and geometry. Lines dart and arc in crystalline trails, silhouettes and sunlight etch vectors in the air, and space itself is envisioned as something that can be folded, warped, shorn and transcended—built upon and reflected into entirely new shapes and forms. There is no noise here, no plumes of man-made smog—just coordinates on an endless grid. The worlds of Framework may lie beyond our perception, existing far above our tangle of thruways and high-rises, but these photos offer a glimpse at what might be: a space made perfect through modularity, math and order—a new structural sublime.
This past summer I traveled to County Clare, Ireland, with thirteen other Wheaton students and two professors. The trip was an intensive study in both the visual and musical arts at The Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan. Over the three-week period we all developed our own concentrations and critiqued each other’s work. I worked tirelessly to create a series of portraits of the people that I connected with during my time there. While establishing a relationship with the people of Ballyvaughan, I connected with the other students that I was working with. During our critiques, visual artists and musicians discussed each other’s work in a language that transcended our disciplines. This idea created a lasting impression that is with me to this day. I have always had this deep connection to music and spoken word poetry. Through this body of work I want to show my connections to these people and their artistic expression.
I spend time looking at my subjects’ faces to find different hues and details in the contours and forms in their faces. Race, gender, and ethnicity become irrelevant. The color of their skin is only relevant to the light that is being cast upon it and the race of the person is meaningless in the language of color. As I sit at my easel to draw, I free my mind of any preconceived notions of what the person should look like. I turn off the outside noise and distractions and just draw. My hand becomes an unconscious extension of my visual perception of my subject and the marks on the paper become a representation of my stream of consciousness. I have learned to trust this way of seeing and creating, and this process almost always results in an image that satisfies me.
In posing unique visual connections between brain neurons, celestial bodies, anatomical layers of the human form, and layers beneath the earth’s surface; I am generating interesting visual connections and complexities between microcosm and macrocosm. My work travels through layers of human existence, from cellular development, to development in the womb, juxtaposed with forms found in nature and the universe. The experience of snowboarding is one that brings a higher awareness to my own body, balance and force in relation to the exterior world. For a moment, I am removed from my every day life and am able to experience nature and my own body as a single connected entity.
My experience snowboarding has made me more aware of this physical, subconscious, and spiritual connection between humans and the universe, inspiring me to interweave these concepts throughout my designs. There is a moment in nature, where silence and being alone resides, that one can explore an inner connectedness. The board designs are meant to be experienced by someone riding down a mountain, alone, and in nature with the board beneath them. This allows for a more profound self-reflection and connection with the natural settings opposed to the confines of white walls.
In reflecting my own body’s balance and movement within the universe, my project requires us to look inward and relate to the much larger forms outside of ourselves.
I’ve seen how that fear can eat away at a person when left to fester unacknow-ledged. My work in this exhibition is my attempt to see the unseen and to give a platform to the internal hurt and violence people often try to ignore. It was created to acknowledge the uncomfortable truths and ugliness not just in the world, but in our world, in our lives.
The medium used was charcoal (with water), acrylic paint, India ink, and chalk pastels when creating these pieces. I felt they would properly illustrate the dark mood and the message I want to convey. I was very conscious of the marks I was making to create a sense of violence. The different levels of ‘finish’ are an attempt to create visual tension, as well as express a sense of rawness in the features and the work as a whole.
I use the drawn frames as a tool to create a ‘view’ into the life of the person; to create a window into the life of the these unseen people, and to make you look at these people and see something more than just the exterior put on for society.
I hope that, as the result of viewing my work, people will be more aware and sensitive to the people around them; realizing that these people I depict are not just anonymous people in the world, but people in our lives. I feel that we often get so caught up in the things happening in the world around us, that we miss seeing the hurt in the people around us.