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Senior studio exhibition highlights non-traditional mediums

April 26, 2017

Senior visual arts majors presented their final exhibitions on Monday evening in an eclectic display of video monitors, sound art, photography and large oil portraits on canvas. In the culmination of their Senior Studio class, many students utilized both traditional and non-traditional mediums to reflect on their personal experiences at Bowdoin and at home.

“I was really excited for Senior Studio because it was an opportunity to do whatever I wanted. I’ve been wanting to not be restricted by any kind of class model,” said Haleigh Collins ’17, whose work was presented in the show.

One of Collins’ pieces is titled “Getting My Hands Dirty and Presenting My Craft.” It features a constant loop of three videos of herself, along with sound sourced from YouTube videos and a Bowdoin Career Planning meeting she recorded. In one video, Collins puts many fake eyelashes on her face and paints them.

“I’m kind of interested in traditionally feminine forms of craft or art and why it’s not seen as high art and then also surrealist elements because I think it looks really creepy,” she said.

In all three videos, the sound and video work to grab the viewer’s attention. Collins said her work’s connection to current events was a big goal in her art.

“I think it’s tough to feel like you are actually commenting on what’s going on in the world, but it’s definitely a goal of mine to be in conversation with things outside of just art for art’s sake,” she said.

Evan Stevens ’17 centered his final project around his experience of synesthesia ­—the association of colors with different people, numbers and words.

“I’m obsessed with color and use it in a very meaningful and symbolic way. I’ve kind of characterized people my whole life, like certain personalities, in terms of color, and this has made me focus a lot on faces. This has kind of fostered my love for portraits as well,” Stevens said.

Stevens’ work, titled “Family Portrait,” features three oil paintings of himself, his mother and his father. The paintings are monochromatic and projected with the light of the color he associates with each person—orange for himself, red for his mother and blue for his father.

“The light aspect is kind of trying to represent this process that’s intangible, trying to have people see my own world in my own head,” said Stevens.

The paintings are in a room with a television playing sounds and showing colors he associates with his family.

“So the whole thing together is meant to represent the sitting room kind of aesthetic, and it’s looking at representations of myself and my family and our history and our idiosyncrasies through color,” said Stevens.

Heather Chan ’17 similarly focused her work on the importance of family. Chan’s piece, “Divergence,” is meant to represent the anxiety and loneliness Chan anticipates feeling upon being separated from her twin, Felice Chan ’17, for the first time after they graduate in June.

“She has been by my side for 22 years and next year’s going to be the first time we’re ever going to be apart, and I think not many people understand the close bond we have as twins and that we rely on each other—she’s been my biggest competitor but also my biggest supporter,” said Chan.

Chan was influenced by the story of the Gemini constellation, in which the immortal twin, Pollux, sacrifices his immortality to share with his mortal twin, Castor, in order to keep them together.

Chan’s piece is a set of five black and white photographs: two of each twin and one of them together. The piece is interactive, with a frame that can be opened on each side to see the picture of the twins in the middle. The photos are suspended on binder clips, which making them flutter slightly when the frame is opened—a nod to the idea of her diverging from her twin.

The Senior Studio class is comprised of 12 students: Chan, Collins, Katie Craighill, Ben Eisenberg, Laura Griffee, Alice Jones, Teddy Lyman, Julie O’Donnell, Henry Quinson, Kenny Shapiro, Elizabeth Snowdon and Stevens. Although the artists were excited to have the opportunity to work without a defined structure, they also found the freedom somewhat challenging.

“My biggest challenge was definitely figuring out how not to go too big, not to go too colorful and in your face and kind of have these more subtle representations of ourselves and the video and the sculpture aspect kind of speak for itself,” said Stevens.

The Senior Studio Final Exhibition will be on installed at the Edwards Center for Art and Dance through May 5.

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