As the spring semester comes to an end, students are putting the finishing touches on their work for the BFA in Art Senior Exhibition. This exhibition will be on display at Brick City Gallery beginning April 26 and ending May 8. Through countless critiques and revisions, these students have put in a substantial amount of effort and time in pursuing their creative goals and transforming them into showcase-ready work.
Joshua Albers, assistant professor in the Art + Design Department, is one of the faculty members leading a group of seniors in the ART 499 Senior Exhibition class this semester. This class not only covers the exhibition process, but also provides helpful advice and insight into valuable knowledge to use following graduation, such as how to compose a successful resume and create an engaging portfolio. Students taking this class are able to get a much more informed look at the industry they are going into—whether it be learning how to find exhibition opportunities or receiving tips on connecting and networking with other artists. “The goal is for all of our graduating BFA students to have the essential tools to continue making, sharing, and thinking about their artwork after they leave Missouri State University,” shares Joshua.
This exhibition opportunity allows for students to present their work in a professional setting, while also experiencing the interactions between visitors and their pieces. “One of the most important skills for students to learn is how to engage with the public through their artwork,” Joshua says, “The BFA Senior Exhibition provides students with an opportunity to get their best work out into the world so they can see how it is received and interpreted by other people.”
Creating work for this public viewing is one of the most substantial milestones for a BFA art student as their collegiate journey comes to a close. “Putting together a cohesive body of work in a students’ chosen medium is a significant achievement in itself, but it is always exciting when students are able to use their BFA Senior Exhibition as a springboard to new opportunities, whether that means further exploration with a subject or materials, graduate school, or a career in their field,” shares Joshua.
Amidst the struggles of the exhibition process and beyond, these students have remained dedicated to producing work they can take pride in. “Although meticulous planning and conscientious time management can help prevent many problems that can affect completing the senior exhibition, sometimes life has other plans (as we are all painfully aware of after the events of the past year), but even without a global pandemic, I have seen students grapple with medical/family emergencies, accidental loss of files or data, and uncertain housing situations, among other issues,” shares Joshua. “While these events are never desirable, they often force students to focus on the key aspect of their work and leave out elements that aren’t actually necessary for their project to be successful.”
Read on to get a sneak peek at the exhibition from a few BFA students as they discuss their presentations and processes.
Hannah is creating paintings and sculptures that center around the topic of mental illness. “My work is based on my personal living environments that I intentionally dramatize by using bright acrylic paint to create a sense of light that is otherworldly,” shares Hannah. “The objects I depict are purposefully combined to speak to a larger narrative surrounding the glorification of mental illness.” Throughout this exhibition process, she had learned the importance of creative freedom and spontaneity. “The biggest thing I have learned […] is that it’s important to not let the initial idea of what a body of work will become get in the way of where it goes,” Hannah says. “Riding the waves of creativity is just as necessary as having a structured studio practice; having too strict of a plan can stifle my creative energy.” After graduation, Hannah plans to apply to artist residencies while continuing her studio work and becoming more active in her art community. Future goals include starting a podcast and delving into additional areas of creativity.
For the exhibition, Brianna is presenting a series of photographs showcasing Missouri’s rural areas. “Missouri has been my home ever since I was born, and I grew up in a small town,” shares Brianna, “I wanted to do a tribute to the life I have known and the culture I have fallen in love with.” One of the biggest takeaways from Brianna’s experience preparing for the exhibition, as well as being a student in ART 499, was that not all social media platforms had to be mastered in order for her to share her work. “This was good news for me because I’m not extremely active on social media in my private life, and I’m quite shy,” shares Brianna. “Finding out that I only needed to ‘become a master’ of one social medium platform was something I could do, and I have gotten better.” Upon graduation, she plans to stay in the Springfield area and continue expanding her photography business.
The exhibition is showing at the Brick City Gallery. The Slow Viewing nights for this exhibition are April 29 and May 6, from 5:30-6:30pm. Address: 215 W. Mill 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 safe distancing when visiting the gallery. Call 417-837-2330 for additional details.
Students with work in the exhibition: Ana Medley, Megan Kemp, Danielle Signaigo, Trevor Heitz, Emileigh Bond, Sam Schacht, Leah Stiefermann, Brianna Miller, Daniel Johnson, Joyce Mudge, and Grace Cooper.