Exhibiting senior artwork

Attendees look at a pop-up book made for the Fall 2017 “Visual Art + Design Senior Exhibition.” Ceramics, photography and graphic design were among some of the categories that were available. 
Zachary Araki/ The Lion's Roar 

Senior art students showed off their work for the Fall 2017 “Visual Art + Design Senior Exhibition.”

The opening reception for the exhibit was held in the Contemporary Art Gallery on Nov. 21. The exhibit will be on display until Dec. 9.

Senior art major Ryan Kenny created a 180-page graphic novel titled “No Stars in the Sky Tonight” about a cat being on his own after being separated from his family.




“I was wanting to do kind of psychological experience, like what people go through for the most part,” said Kenny. “We get the window to see what my cat goes through, but like you know, we don’t get to see all of the bad things that people go through in life. Pretty much my goal is for people to be more sympathetic towards one another.”

Kenny’s original idea for his piece started in part from seeing stray cats on campus avoiding people. He explains how the ideas for the piece expanded.

Kenny said, “Along with that, my cat just recently had kittens. My life is a crazy cat lady story. I started rough drafts in my sketchbook like the beginning of a plot, and it kind of expanded further as I delved deeper into it. That’s initially how it started. I got into graphic novels in Christina’s 290 animation class, which is like we do graphic novels and stuff. Since that class, I had a huge interest in graphic novels. It’s like storyboarding. You get to map out how things look, how the plot grows and so I tried to do a comic for a character that I created in my 190 class. Two pages in, I scrapped that and started doing this instead.”

Senior art major Michael Sponholz used 3-D printing to make facsimiles of historical artworks such as the “Mona Lisa” more accessible to the public.

Sponholz explained, “I thought it was interesting to try to make something from historical art such as a painting and then how you would view that piece of work if it was only converted to values such as highs and lows. Shining a light through it is the answer to that. You’re able to determine the value of the face if a light is hitting the face a certain way. Then it actually recesses back into a dark space, so the more layers you have, the more light that is prevented from coming through.”

Senior art major Jesse Thomas blended audio and visual mediums for his piece.

Thomas said, “My piece is about challenging the way people sample music. I use hip-hop and R&B records to collage and make images with them. Then from those images, I put them into a sound program that converted the colors of the images into sound waves, and from that, I was able to create my own music that I then put on record.”

Senior art major Melissa Robertson discussed her idea behind her pieces.

“The thesis behind my whole body of work was examining the feminine identity behind the world of technology because usually you picture like computer lab, it’s all like gray, black, silver,” said Melissa Robertson. “It’s very, they say gender neutral, but it’s very, very male, and any time you want to inject some kind of feminine identity, it’s like, ‘Do you really need to bring gender in here,’ so it’s just like kind of creating a fantasy world where it’s more friendly to that gender expression where it’s not, anyone can enjoy pink, but it’s almost like women aren’t allowed to enjoy it if they want to be taken seriously. So, I just went full speed ahead with it.”

Robertson’s inspiration for her pieces came out of an animation she made for an art class.

Robertson said, “Once I got to my senior project class, my teacher referred back to this video, was like, ‘I noticed that’s something that you maybe not thinking consciously about it, but you do a lot of stuff involving women and technology, so maybe take those two aspects and see what you can come up with,’ so after the video, the first thing I came up with was the video projection inside the bubblegum machine. It’s kind of like putting videos inside of things, see what I can do with that. Every project had an element of something physical with something digital.”

2015 Alumna Deanna Robertson attended the show to support her sister.

“I wasn’t really into art,” said Deanna Robertson. “I work in admissions, so knowing somebody who’s in the program and kind of knows, it’s easy to talk to students about the art program too.”

Ellen Thomas attended to see her nephew’s artwork. She shared her thoughts on the exhibition as a whole.

“They’re all very different,” said Thomas. “They’re all very in some way inspiring because I do know artists, sometimes they live in a different world, but we all do of course. I think it’s interesting to see how some young people, there might even be a few that are older I don’t know, but it’s interesting to see how they perceive the world.”

Melissa Robertson’s interest in art shifted over time.

“Getting to this point, I started drawing less and less and making videos more, and I noticed the further I got away from that, the more I still enjoyed working with color but in a different way,” said Melissa Robertson. “I still enjoy painting but not as much as drawing with pencil. Video art, 3-D art and game development opened up a whole new world of art making for me, so I’m excited to see what’s gonna come next.”

Kenny discussed what preparation he put into the exhibition.

“My advice is don’t do what I do,” said Kenny. “I’ve been running around all over the place. I had 45 minutes of sleep getting all this together. I printed out my stuff on the wall like on Saturday and had it all good to go. The book on the other hand, I still needed to finish it. I spent, and I’m not even kidding you, I was up all weekend long trying to finish as much as I can. I finished the book, but I wanted to enhance it even more as I could, and then by 7:30 a.m., I was just like, ‘Alright, well, this is what I got, and I’m rolling with it.’ I went down to Document Source, had them print it out and put it on my shelves here, and here we are today.”

Kenny discussed how he got into art.

“I’ve always been like a video gamer and a cartoonist for the most part, so I’m a big nerd,” said Kenny. “Pretty much, I watched a lot of cartoons. It kind of got me into the animation field. I guess I was around eighth grade, I remember we had this one guy, this one animator come in and talk about animation or something like that. I was like, ‘That’s really cool. That’s what I wanna do.’”

Melissa Robertson shared her post-graduation plans.

“I’m considering grad school and also looking at other places where I could exhibit this show tonight,” said Melissa Robertson. “I would love to make even beefier versions of this and apply to other galleries to see where I can show it to as many people as possible. It’s a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun, and I want a bunch of people to see it.”

Sponholz is waiting for his wife to also graduate before deciding on a plan for after graduation.

Sponholz said, “As she applies to schools, I’m also applying to grad schools, and it’s my goal to try to get into an animation studio such as Pixar, or Dreamworks or any of the other smaller studios where I can create environments. I’m really interested in creating environments for like rooms or outdoor spaces.”

Kenny discussed his thoughts about graduating.

“I’m excited,” said Kenny. “I’m tried. I’m glad this whole ordeal is over because it’s definitely been a wild ride, but I’m happy. I’m a little nervous like post-school because for someone who went from high school directly to college my whole life is school, so that’s gonna be like a whole life shift for me.”

The senior exhibition brought together various art mediums, from ceramics to graphic design.

“I think there’s a really cool diversity of what we have here at the show,” said Sponholz. “Some of the stuff that you traditionally see like the video and the audio is here. You also have photographs that are no longer on a wall. They’re just hanging, draping from the ceiling, which is really nice, and then you have some people that have transitioned from art ed and have created some amazing block diagram works where it actually is like value and color.”