This year’s Studio Art Senior Capstone exhibition at the Lord Hall Gallery is called “Enouement”. As always, the students in the class chose the name, which is French for the bittersweetness of having arrived here in the future without being able to tell you how it all turned out. The pieces are at once hopeful, introspective and ethereal, with whimsical sculptures of mushrooms, feather-adorned glass trout and realistic landscapes punctuated with colorful shapes.
For this cohort of sixteen UMaine senior studio art majors, the cornerstone exhibition experience has been more than just learning about the behind-the-scenes work that makes art exhibitions happen. It’s about showcasing the art they’ve created and the community they’ve built, despite the fact that for many of these students this is their first full semester on campus since starting the pandemic.
For the Studio Art Senior Capstone class, each student must not only contribute to the art of the exhibition, but also contribute to the behind-the-scenes work that makes the exhibition possible, such as fundraising, designing flyers and determining food to serve. at the opening. Students should also write artist statements about their work and practice writing resumes and mock interviews to help prepare them for life after graduation.
“They have a lot going for them in this class and they’ve done everything for this show,” says Andy Mauery, a studio art teacher who teaches this year’s capstone class. “The department provides the gallery, equipment and props, but the students do their own curatorial first rounds to decide what should go in and what should be cut. They plan the reception, they bring the exhibition into the gallery, they stage it, they work with the gallery director and they hang it and sometimes they do artist talks afterwards.
Mauery says the synthesis experience has been essential to UMaine’s studio art major since art professor James Linehan introduced it 26 years ago. UMaine was an early adopter of professional practice embedded in university art degrees.
“It’s a very good course. It examines the skill sets that students need to find different careers in art. We are aware of being honest about the skills that will be useful to them in their careers,” says Mauery. “There’s an idea a lot of people have that art is exclusively a solo pursuit. It is also a largely collaborative experience.
Setting up the exhibit gives artists a chance to see the details that make for a great show – everything from how to properly wallpaper an artwork to determining which local businesses and organizations will be the best collaborators for the spectacle.
“It’s really exciting,” says Connor Reese, a double major in studio art and art education. “It’s a taste of what it’s like to be a true artist. It’s been stressful trying to get everything in place and meet all the deadlines on time and all that kind of stuff, but we all put a lot of time into it.
Maurey said the role each student takes on in the exhibition planning process “can be very different depending on their focus.” Students learned elements of art as a profession in which they could be involved, opening them up to careers they can pursue after graduation that they had not considered before.
For example, Sofia Rivera, a double major in art and senior studio art education, says she felt “pride” in her fundraising successes for the show through events like bake sales. , raffles and community outreach; this skill, says Mauery, is essential in the professional art world.
“This group has been really great at raising money and building connections in the community, which is increasingly important in art,” says Mauery.
Lily McLaughlin, a senior studio art major, designed the posters and social media images for the show – another important piece of publicity for the gallery.
“I learned that I really like making them. I have a minor in graphic design, but I never had the experience of putting out something that actually brought information to people,” McLaughlin says.
The flagship expo takes place every fall, but this cohort of seniors faced a unique set of challenges leading up to the expo. Most of them spent most of their college art training practically on Zoom. For many, this meant having to set up home studios and having limited access to the materials and means to create art. Until this semester, most students in the class had only met their classmates on a computer screen.
Now that they’re back — in some cases, for the first full semester since their freshman year when the pandemic began — they have in-person access to everything UMaine’s art department has to offer. Their work reflects this new sense of discovery while displaying students’ individual styles and interests.
“A lot of this work was done in the last two months,” says Taylor Bair, a studio art specialist. “You see this desire and this pleasure to use what is available to us now that we are back and really going all out. I think a lot of people have produced really solid work.
The sense of community with their peers has also allowed students to create works of which they are proud.
“We missed a lot of that during the pandemic, getting to know each other and working together in the studio. I’ve gotten to know people better in the past month than I have in the past two years,” says studio art and psychology major Anastasia Lipp. “There is a surge of energy when you work with other people. I feel like that’s part of why this semester has been so productive and successful.
The opening reception for ‘Énouement’ begins at 5.30pm on Friday 18 November at the Lord Hall Gallery. It is free and open to the public. The exhibition will continue until January 20, 2023; The Lord Hall Gallery is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is free and open to the public.
Contact: Sam Schipani, [email protected]