As the fall semester heads toward a close, BFA in Art students have installed their senior exhibition–which is on display at the Brick City Gallery until December 5. Countless hours of coursework, trial-and-error, problem-solving, and creative brainstorming have prepared students to showcase their talents in this exhibit, and beyond.
Jina Seo, assistant professor and area coordinator of metal/jewelry within the Art + Design Department, mentored this group of seniors in preparation for the exhibit.
“I admire my senior students who were amazingly adaptable and flexible with unpredictable circumstances,” shares Jina, “The students successfully developed their ideas and were able to create the work despite the class delivery methods.” Most of the class meetings Jina and her students attended were through Zoom, which made teaching and the exchange of helpful feedback a challenge. “Some students had to work in their home studios, some had to work with limitations and hardships,” Jina says, “but everyone did a good job to showcase their exhibition work in a gallery space at the end.”
Read on to get a sneak peek of the exhibition from a few BFA students, as they discuss their presentations and processes.
Carol Harris, 3D Studies
Carol Harris is also presenting ceramic pieces in the exhibition–in collaboration with 3D artforms. There will be seven separate pieces showcasing traditional ceramic forms and their spirited relationship to certain figures. “The characters I have created are all some aspect of me. Like me, they learned to be adventurous and playful through the act of creating,” she describes, “They immerse themselves in clay and turn the forms into their own playground where they meditate and play childhood games.”
Prior to coming to Missouri State, Carol concentrated predominantly on painting. “I never expected to be a ceramicist or a 3-D artist,” she says. She attributes her time at MSU to expanding her artistic possibilities and strengthening her skills, as well as encouraging her to test out different media and processes. “The teachers and staff at MSU have allowed me to explore new avenues of expression that have greatly broadened my artistic voices,” Carol shares.
Carol wishes that viewers will experience both hope and joy from her work. She desires that they leave with the knowledge that exploration and adventure is a wonderful way to broaden their worldview, as well as their view of themselves–much like the Art + Design faculty has done for her. “My professors have taught me to believe in myself and my vision of the world I want to create, they have encouraged me to let my own voice speak for me through my art,” Carol shares, “I have gone from being an art student to an artist with their guidance and support; […] each one of them will remain an important part of my life and my art story.”
Junru Zhang, Painting & Drawing
Junru Zhang is presenting artwork surrounding the topic of white pollution–pollution caused by plastic products such as plastic bags, bottles, and silverware. Her creative motivation was prompted by the pandemic. “I found the importance of the environment, through noticing the waste around me,” Junru explains, “especially common garbage such as plastic and [other] disposable products. I was inspired.”
Her hope for visitors is to show them the possibilities of plastic waste, compared to the easy disregard of it. “The garbage we make can survive in another way,” Junru shares, “Such as art.”
Shayna Cowan-MacDonald, BFA ceramics student, is presenting pottery in the exhibition–specifically, mugs. “I love functional ware,” she shares, “There’s something magical about taking a lump of dirt and heating it up a couple times and suddenly you have a piece of work that can last.”
Her creative process results from introspective thinking and impromptu, but intentional, decisions. “Each mug I make is a byproduct of what I’m thinking and feeling in the moment,” Shayna explains, “Each mug is unique because they are made spontaneously, based on my mental state at the time.” Like many students, Shayna has severe anxiety and depression, but has found that when crafting ceramics, her mind quiets and she is able to focus. “It wasn’t until I got into the BFA program that I started ‘making’ for me, as opposed to making for others,” Shayna shares. Future plans for Shayna involve opening a studio so she can continue to create and evolve her process.
The mugs presented in the exhibition will also be on sale! “For those who buy them, I am thankful, and I hope they provide happy, mundane memories,” shares Shayna.
Jonna Blankenship 3D Studies, Painting & Drawing
Jonna Blankenship is not only presenting one medium, but two, in the exhibit–ceramics and drawing. She will have five large vases and multiple drawings on display, both based on her experiences in Romania. Jonna has volunteered in Romania for four years and says it feels like “home” to her.
“I am presenting large and small drawings to express my longing to go to Romania,” she explains, “I also have writings throughout my work sharing my frustrations, bitterness, conversations, etc., both good and bad.” The drawings encapsulate her memories and dreams relating to experiences from Romania. The vases focus on the people of Romania. “These pieces are more educational. I express how ‘gypsy’ is a derogatory slur,” she describes, “I have QR codes leading to Romani written websites to give more insight into this beautiful and misunderstood group of people.”
Jonna’s drawings begin by looking through old photos and noticing when certain images spark memories. Her work is layered, with paint and words both meshing and overlapping. Some elements are strong enough to be seen through the next layer of paint, while some are not. “In my large paintings, I write out my thoughts, feelings, and conversations,” Jonna shares, “then I paint over them with images and colors, responding intuitively.”
Her vases begin on the wheel, adding clay as she goes. Jonna uses photos she has taken in Romania and traces the images to make an imprint on the clay. “After the image is transferred, I use a variety of tools to carve away or add clay, giving a more three-dimensional effect,” Jonna explains, “this is the hardest part of my process, getting the different layers to look correct involves a lot of forethought and thinking–fighting what I think I see versus what I really see.”
Homesickness is the word Jonna uses to describe the feeling of her drawings. She would like visitors to consider their own definition of homesickness, whether or not they feel homesick themselves, or the gratefulness they have for what or who they can call home. Jonna would also like for visitors to realize that the word ‘gypsy’ or the phrase ‘being gypped’ is derogatory. “I want them to realize that [the use of those words] are hurting a group of people and taking away their culture.”
During her time at Missouri State, Jonna says she has grown as an artist in many ways, but most of all within her creative process. “I’ve been able to let the process move me instead of already having a finished product in mind,” explains Jonna, “The thinking is in the doing. Even if I don’t know what I’m doing–if I keep going–eventually I’ll get to where I need to be going.”
Additional students who will be presenting work in the exhibit: Bailey Wilhelm, Photo; Brandellia Hang, Animation; Shayna Cowan-MacDonald, 3D Studies; Kristina Cain, Painting & Drawing; Jennifer Reynolds, Animation; Thomas Russel, 3D Studies; Jordan Seyer, Painting & Drawing; and Haiden Stipp, Painting & Drawing.
The exhibition is showing at the Brick City Gallery. Address: 215 W. Milll St. Springfield, MO 65806. Hours: 11am-6pm Monday thru Friday, Saturday noon-4pm, and special late-night showings on Thursdays until 8pm. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing when visiting the gallery. Call 417-837-2330 for additional details.