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Exhibiting seniors explain their inspiration

May  01, 2014

The "little things in life," dragons within, spaces, runes, farm life, bow ties and memories: Studio art and graphic design majors explain the inspiration for their work in the New Departures: Senior Art Show at the Augustana College Teaching Museum of Art.

The exhibition is the culmination of their Senior Inquiry capstone. The show includes work in a variety of media from painting and photography to quilting and video.

The show will be open through May 25 (closed for final exams May 19-22). Museum hours are noon-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.

The students will discuss their work during a gallery talk at 10:30 a.m. May 7 during the college's Celebration of Learning. The public also is invited to the graduation day reception for the exhibition from 12:45-2 p.m. May 25.

Grace Bunderson: All These Little Things

Each chair represents a different person. The size of the chair reflects the size of the impact they leave, and each smack dot on the chair is an individual moment you share with them.

Each one on its own is small and can be picked out individually, but if you take a step back, you see them all come together to weave this story and all its twists and turns along the way. And when they’re all together, you have a room full of memories and places to reflect on them – a quiet place just for you to “sit” and think about that person.

That’s what I’ve been trying to show throughout this whole experience —  that the little things in life add up to what makes an experience yours and yours alone.

Others may join you on your adventure, just like a different person sitting in the chair you were just in, but they all bring something different with them that can change things. They can have sharp keys in their pocket, which will tear and drag at the surface, or they can curl up and stay for hours working on a project and keep the chair warm. It’s all about the little things.

Adrielle Louise Canda: Change Is a Clock of Inevitability

As humans, as persons, we never stop growing and learning. Entering my college years, I wanted to begin some journey. It was not until I submitted a paper for a first-years' class that I realized where to start. The paper was about self-actions, and Professor Ann Boaden commented at the end of the paper something about fighting the dragons within ourselves. Thus I began a pilgrimage, a pilgrimage I know will not end even when I graduate.

In this journey so far, I realized that, as humans, we seem to be in this never-ending circle. What we believe is actually not real, and once we become comfortable in a set of beliefs, something shakes us out of that comfort into either a new set of or an extension of our beliefs. We are always growing, always changing because everything around us is changing. We go through seasons of emotions and growth: happiness, full, dull, degrading, cold, bare, growth, promise. Because everything is constantly changing, it never becomes clear what it is we are going through until we are at the next stage, next season.

To illustrate this, a story should be told: a story through nature and the four seasons. Using the forms of trees into human figures – combining human elements into earthly nature or humanizing nature. Each natural figure is put through a season: summer, autumn, winter and spring. Each season represents an essence of who we are as an individual at a certain moment. Each natural figure is also broken up in equal squares to show a sort of order in an uncertain development and also to show an occlusion effect: why everything we go through is not necessarily clear until we are past that season and already in the next one.

Nature is constant, revolving, changing – just like humans. These pieces, as a whole, are a reflection of myself. I hope that I have generalized it enough so everyone could relate to it in some way or another.

Amelia Růžek: Paper Improvisations on Architecture

The Paper Improvisations on Architecture Series is made up of mixed media sketches and 400 physical sculptures that reflect an abstract expressionist aesthetic representing the unseen world of dynamic sculpture around us within daily life. My work is influenced by deconstructivist architecture, art, and design — particularly that which resembles a science-fiction structure. Notice the juxtaposition of a peaceful smooth form with the sharp conflicting planes and edges.

Some might be tempted to think, “Anyone can fold paper randomly. Anyone can draw a few pen lines.” This is true, but I am of the philosophy that anything is art if it's thought of as such. I didn't approach this project seeking to prove my paper folding skills. There are amazing origami artists, but I am simply folding to make the neglected known and to make the ordinary beautiful. My work is essentially a call to understand the physical world itself as art, from the simplest shape to the most complex combination. The canvas pieces shown here today are loosely based on sketches of a paper sculpture rotating as it spins on the line in a breeze. Dimension is truly a wonder to contemplate. I'll hope you'll join me in its celebration!

While viewing my work, I ask that you would contemplate the following questions: What geometrical forms are found in everyday life and in nature? What shapes can be seen in the negative space between the forms on the canvas and between the sculptures? How much art and beauty is neglected by our busy lives?

Christopher Madison: The Alternative Route

These photographs open doors, altering reality and allowing an audience to question their own thoughts and perceptions.

The simplicity of the backgrounds allows the viewer to believe the falsifications are truth. I am trying to constrict my photography, allowing the mirror to display an open space making it seem as if the mirror is not there.

This sequence demonstrates there is always another way out, even though it may not be visible – that there is a way of escaping a problem, no matter how deep you’re in.

Next time you feel trapped, look at a wall, acknowledge the details, and find a way out.

Erin Williams: Elder Futhark Rune Cards

“I know that I hung on a windy tree nine long nights, wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin, myself to myself, on that tree of which no man knows from where its roots run. No bread did they give me, nor drink from a horn, downwards I peered; I took up the runes, screaming I took them, then I fell back from there.” — Havamal 138

Everyone wants to see their future. Everyone wants to understand the forces at play in their own lives. Some seek these answers through meditation, and others through prayer, but myself and many others in the Asatru community look for these answers through runic divination, using the Elder Futhark runes. These runes date back to the second century, and through study of surviving literature, many Norse scholars have deduced meanings and symbolism for each of these runes. Generally painted onto stone or wood discs, they can be hard to memorize.

As I was continuing my own personal study, I found myself wanting to create a visual learning tool for the Asatru and Norse Pagan community to help them in their own study and to provide a new medium for using the runes. Learning and mastering these symbols is a process that takes many, many years, and I want to help people who are just starting to get their bearings in the Norse world.

I have always loved paper as a medium. From origami to scherenschnitte to bookbinding, paper has always been a constant in my supply box. As I’ve gotten older and progressed as an artist and designer, I have fallen in love with the bold and graphic look of paper sculpture. Artists like Brittney Lee and Carlos Meira have shaped how I think about paper.

Through this series, I wanted to break out of stereotypical Viking imagery and show the beauty of Norse religion in a more modern light loaded with different inks, pigments, and shimmers. Through these works I hope to inspire others in their study of the Norse runes, as well as bring deeper meaning to my own personal study. I hope to gain a better understanding of the questions I am exploring both in terms of my religious beliefs and in discovering my design style.

Lindsay Hohertz: The Farmer's House

I am an art major and sociology major, so it is natural for me to incorporate a sense of empathy with people in my work. For my show, I have decided to revolve my theme around corn, and how it not only impacts the farmer and his family, but also supports an entire town. This is coming from my own experiences; my family has farmed for many generations, with one of the main products being seed corn.

I also have worked for a hybrid seed company for the past three years. I quote one of my supervisors when saying, “We are living the dream, feeding the world.” I hope that through my work I can remind people to appreciate what they have, and to appreciate the way of life on a family farm./p>

Since my concentration is fibers, I interpret farm scenes in an abstract way. The abstract qualities are also represented in my glassblowing pieces. For example, the movement of the smooth glass represents the husk of the corn perfectly. The textures I pinch into the glass suggest the movement of the kernels of corn. Like Augustana Professor Rowen Schussheim-Anderson, I am interested in the beauty of nature and interpreting it through layers of color. My batiks have layers as well, with the wax and the various colors making the batik. There is also the fabric over the top to create a frame, and then “free hand” quilting to hold the layers together.

In addition to the batik quilts and the glassblowing sculptures, I am also incorporating linoleum print making in my show. The prints are scenes of buildings one would find in a small farm town, such as a church and a school. This is where education and a sense of community are established, which is why it is important to incorporate them into my theme. I also have images of scenes that are typical in the farming community, such as a combine harvesting. To make these prints more lively and better incorporated within my overall aesthetic appeal, I am adding sections of color to the background, which gives a patched quilt effect.

Monica Hill: Family Ties

Throughout the past four years at Augustana, I have found myself interested in art. As a first-year student I took a class on fibers, learned loom weaving and used a handheld loom to weave different types of fiber pieces such as Kente cloth (a technique where individually woven strips are sewn together to make one piece, usually worn as clothing in Western African cultures). I've looked at the work of many artists but just couldn't grasp inspiration from them. In Western African art, there aren’t any known artists of tapestry or kente cloths.

My coursework in African art, African art history, and fibers allowed me to be inspired by West African art and moved me to work with fibers for this senior exhibition. My dad was the biggest influence and inspiration for this installation. The idea of bow ties came from my dad’s tie hanger in his room. I was intrigued with the different colors and chaos. His ties made me want to create something the opposite of chaos and confusion, and create something tailored and structured with sharp lines. While using fibers, I wanted to create cohesive pieces, all incorporating the motif of bow ties, using different weaving techniques such as loom weaving and rug making.

To go along with my Kente cloth made in Junior Inquiry, I only used red, white and black in these pieces, because I adore how simple black and white are against one another, and the red pops it all off and give the pieces a hint of color and boldness. Also, I used these colors because of their meaning in West African cultures. I learned in my African Art class that white symbolizes purification; red, sacrificial rites and the struggle; and black, spiritual energy and maturity. These meanings are symbolic of my life experiences, growing up young and pure, the struggles my family and I faced throughout my years, and the spiritual energy that helped me deal with those struggles in a positive way.

Rajinder Kaur: A Sensory Trip to India

The focus of my senior art portfolio is the culture of India. I want to capture the culture I was born in and make it available for others. By evoking all of your senses this installation will help the visitors to transport themselves to the land that where I was born, perhaps even something close to the house where I was raised.

The work I am presenting is not made to copy what is found in India, instead it is a combination of my own interpretation of multiple influences, weaved together to evoke things that can still be found in India today. I lived in India for 10 years, and then my family came to the United States, where I have been since then. During my 12 years in the U.S., I have been exposed to many cultures from around the world. As part of my artistic development during my time at Augustana, I have learned to think about some old things in new ways. This has led me to create some traditional art forms using new media and new methods without completely changing the tradition that comes with the art form.

Liv Reinacher: Moments

I love painting people because I love capturing human moments. Moments are made up of so much more than one simple image; they are complex arrangements of layers. For this project I let these moments find me instead of trying to force them onto the canvas.

I painted layer upon layer until I could see the beginning of something that seemed worth capturing. I pulled these figures out of random acts of color and shaped them until they made sense to me. More than being visual depictions of real life, they are memories of emotions and feelings that I tried to portray through shape and color. My hope was it to create paintings that people could identify with and that they could relate to their own stories and memories.

Samantha Stanton: Skyborne Concepts

I’ll come right out in saying I love dinosaurs. They have always been a part of who I am — I literally cannot remember a time when these amazing prehistoric creatures haven’t been part of my psyche. They’re the reason I originally was majoring in geology, so that one day I could find them myself, have a career doing that. Reading about them I learned how animals worked, how ecosystems worked, how evolution worked; eventually I learned how science itself works and is done.

But I wasn’t just concerned with the science of all this. I loved drawing it too, and was always striving to incorporate what I learned into my art. People will tell you that art and science are opposites, that they have little in common and don’t work well together, but I believe this is blatantly false. There are few scientific concepts that can’t be represented with a diagram or illustration of some sort, and museums rely almost completely on visual representations of scientific phenomena to educate the public, who otherwise may not have the vocabulary to read and understand these things. After all, a picture says a thousand words.

For almost as long as I’ve been drawing dinosaurs, I’ve been drawing dragons and inventing fantasy worlds for them to live in. Now, one may wonder what fantasy has to do with dinosaurs, or indeed any influences from anything real, but believe it or not, fantasy relies on logic quite a bit. We want these mythological creatures and figures to feel real, like they really could exist somewhere, and for that a storyteller needs a halfway-decent understanding of how the world works. Even allowing for magic in my worlds, I have always approached them like they could be a real place and would function much like our own world does for the most part.

This is where my background in science has come in handy. My knowledge of anatomy in particular helps me build believable fantasy creatures, from dragons to aliens and everything in between. Books have always been a way to bring fantastic creatures to life, and more recently movies, but another great storytelling medium has arisen: the video game. The highest quality games easily rival today’s blockbusters in terms of story and characters but allow a level of interaction no film can achieve... This is the focus of my show: the exploration of how a fantasy world and its story can be brought to life, made real in a way, through the use of technology, cleverly applied science, and good old-fashioned imagination.

Sara Sievert: True Love (video)

When I was a small child and couldn’t fall asleep, my parents told me to tell myself a story. One July night this past summer, I couldn’t fall asleep and I did exactly what my parents had told me to do when I was younger. However, this story was different than any of my previous stories. This time my story had no live people and no actual speaking but was instead a very visual affair. These changes I believe to be influenced by my enjoyment of Pixar shorts. These video productions are about inanimate objects falling in love or people falling in love with the help of inanimate objects.

That fateful July night I created a fun, dynamic storyline that turned into my own unique short. The characters in my story have ups and downs on their journey to love and finally being together. The rise and fall of the plot line is similar to that seen in Pixar Shorts such as “The Blue Umbrella” by Sashchka Unsled and “Paperman” by John Kahrs. By looking into the making of “The Blue Umbrella” I was able to learn a lot about the process. Then I was able to apply certain steps and thought processes to the making of my own short, such as how to go about designing simple yet expressive cartoon faces.

My short blends the two ideas – the characters are inanimate objects yet they are shaped like people. Instead of a fluid animation I have created an animation similar to a stop motion piece to emphasize that over all I want it to be a funny and enjoyable experience. My goal was to create a work that brings entertainment to people in a manner similar to that of Pixar but in my own style.

Samantha Paddock: The Modern Landscape: What Have We Given?

Moved by the modernist writers of the early 20th century, specifically William Faulkner and T.S. Eliot. My art responds to their innate sense of the human need for art, language, and beauty in a desolate post-industrial world. My deep appreciation for the modernist aesthetic and all beauty (even beauty derived from the most grotesque places) has led me here.

I chose to make my statement by combining the traditional medium that I love, photography, with my love for literature, in the form of a printed publication. I hope my photographs can provide a narrative for the cleansing power of nature, as well as generate critical conversation about what type of landscape we are choosing to create for ourselves. In short, I ask, what have we given?