After four years of jogging around Brunswick to get to art class and spending late nights in the studio, the 18 seniors in Senior Studio, Professor James Mullen’s capstone course for senior visual arts majors, will display their final semester’s work in the Robert H. and Blythe Bickel Edwards Center for Art and Dance today. 

The show is called “XIX” because the group is “a team of 19,” including Mullen, said James Boeding ’14. Each student has created a project independently, with the freedom to take it in whatever direction he or she desired.

“They came in and they had 18 different directions,” said Mullen. “That’s what’s very exciting about this—we have a very broad array of media and types of work that people are investigating.” 

This course, which is the culmination of their four years as student artists, pushed the students to take the materials with which they have grown familiar and “challenged them to become even more thematic and conceptual,” said Mullen. 

The show includes drawings, paintings, photographs, collages, videos, sculptures and mixed media projects.

“It’s an opportunity for people to deeply investigate a body of work. They drive the bus, instead of being given assignments by instructors. The work has their stamp on it,” said Mullen.

Boeding, who has concentrated on photography during his time at Bowdoin, decided to focus on working with film. He experimented using the popular short video app Vine and explored using segmented screens to show multiple video source outputs.

“I created a camera that holds nine video cameras at once and films nine different perspectives. I call it the nine-eye,” said Boeding.

For Boeding, this semester has been a new experience.

“It was fun to start something new. My videos have been described as disorientating and kind of trippy, cool, a different way of looking at world,” said Boeding. “It’s like the world became the subject.”

Mullen noted that some students entered the class already armed with an idea of what they wanted to do while others came in clueless. 

“They now know how to chart their own artistic course,” said Mullen.

Dana Hopkins ’14 said she changed her vision several times over the course of the semester. She said that it took her so long to settle on a project because of the freedom the class allowed.

“I didn’t really know how to paint yet, so I started trying to learn color and faces. I had to step back and start looking more deeply,” said Hopkins. 

She ended up exploring the faces of female Bowdoin students through close-up portraits.
“They’re just face, no body, and mostly only hair,” said Hopkins. “They’re meant to take the context away, to see how much of someone’s identity comes through when all you’re presented with is a face.”

Those involved in the course noted how rewarding it has been to work alongside the other senior art majors in the class.

“The feedback is diverse and that’s fun,” Boeding said.

Hopkins noted that prior to the class she really didn’t know the other majors all too well.
“It’s been really nice, being in one building, inspired by what other people are doing. Not to mention the late night sessions we would have in the studio,” she said. “It’s nice to have camaraderie, and to meet people who I should have met a long time ago. It’s nice to know we all still had to figure ourselves out.”

All the artists plan on continuing with art in some capacity in the future, though perhaps not in professional careers.

“They will all pursue aspects of a creative life,” Mullen agreed. “Art will penetrate and have a presence in any path they take now.”