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Visions and Revisions: Stetson Senior Art Shows

As Spring Semester winds down on Stetson University’s DeLand campus, activity in the studios of graduating art majors is at fever pitch. That’s especially true in the Hand Art Center, with the opening reception for the first of two student shows set for Friday, March 24, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Senior with her artwork

Katie Mackey displays her mixed-media series, “Driftwood,” for Clash of Arts, the digital-arts program’s senior thesis exhibit, through April 5 at Stetson University’s Hand Art Center.

Katie Mackey stepped back from the last of five works in her moody mixed-media series, “Driftwood,” hammer in hand. Moving the wooden panel near the entrance to Clash of Arts, the digital-arts program’s senior thesis exhibit, so it balanced, Mackey talked about her technologically complex images. “The pieces are made out of wood, most of it found on the side of the road,” she said.

“They form a timeline in the lives of two of my friends. One was sexually assaulted and the other was raped by her boyfriend,” Mackey said. The women blamed themselves at first, but gradually recovered – a process vividly shown in the central work. Boards that have been split apart show two faces, one looking backward and the other forward with an expression of hope.

Mackey tapped the last nail home, and smiled; her work was ready to be shown. Around the corner, the boldly colored and distorted images of Michael Hawkins’ “Facing Reality” demanded attention. And across the way, Gerardo Diazfonseca adjusted the volumn on “Underwater Adventure,” which he described as a 21st century children’s pop-up book – upgraded to an amusingly interactive video game. Pick up the tablet, hover it over the book on the pedestal, touch the starfish and – with sound and motion – it all comes to life. The game is sophisticated, creative and simple: fun.

The concepts, technology, imagery and sheer kinetic energy in Clash of Arts is dizzying. The exhibit and accompanying displays in the nearby theater showcase works by the 30 graduating students of digital-arts professors Dengke Chen and Amadine Pras. Powerful and passionate, the works will be on view Monday, March 20, through April 5, when the next wave of works — these by Stetson’s five graduating visual-art majors — takes over the art center for the second senior thesis show, A Select Few.

Senior Bianca Enos artwork

Bianca Enos’ painting deals with “body dissatisfaction, objectification of women, and media’s effects on self-perception, specifically in females,” the artist says.

They will be ready, after preparing all spring in art professor Dan Gunderson’s Senior Research Class. In her Stetson studio a few days ago, Laine Weber-Callahan perched on a ladder, adding final touches to the largest of the three pieces in her solo mini-show, “Rebirth.” Its textural surface, a loose “quilt” of ripped canvas, comes from a process of “breaking, tearing, burning and, essentially, destroying a material to create a new sense of meaning,” she says of her evolution into an artist. “Embracing the mistakes, the flaws and the unknown is what makes it its own restoration.”

Jasmine Ramos’s larger-than-life paintings of photo-realistic toy water guns reflects her interest in the work of Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and other Pop and New-Pop artists. That sets it apart from Whitney Wolf’s large paintings and sculpture of birds, Julia Lozano’s ceramic wall-hangings and impressionistic dancers that Isabel Hernandez shaped in her studio. Just as personal and emphatic are the witty paintings of women as commodities that populate Bianca Enos’s studio.

A colorless manikin poses against a Barbie-pink backdrop in one study, the center of her body replaced by an hourglass. Enos’s subject looks down, shocked but also delighted as she realizes she literally has an hourglass figure. Amusing but also deadly serious, the painting deals with “body dissatisfaction, objectification of women, and media’s effects on self-perception, specifically in females,” the artist says.

Senior Jasmine Ramos with artwork

Jasmine Ramos shows her painting of a larger-than-life, photo-realistic toy water gun.

“By replacing parts of the female figure with objects of comparable form, I’m showing how women are often judged by others, and by themselves, for their physical, exterior beauty: a beauty that has been defined and drilled into their minds by society.”

A Select Few is a wide-ranging show that delves deeply into each young artist’s mediums and interests – as does the current Clash of Arts. Each is a revelation; together, they offer insights into a new generation of creative voices.

 

 

If You Go

Clash of Arts: Digital Arts Senior Thesis Exhibition remains at the Hand Art Center, 421 N. Woodland Blvd., through April 5. A reception is set for 6-8 p.m. on Friday, March 24, at the art center.

A Select Few: Visual Arts Senior Thesis Exhibition is set for April 17-May 3 at the Stetson art center, with a reception 6-8 p.m. on Friday, April 21.

Admission is free; for details, call 386-822-7271 or visit www.stetson.edu/handartcenter.

-Laura Stewart

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