Eleven students are showcasing their work in this year’s senior art show, “Miscellanea.” Connor Bergh, Brooke Christenson, Wyatt Dickson, Sydney Michael Kelly, Emil Knapp, Alex Meyer, Mara Morrill, Katie Munson, Dagne Ode, Kylie Rome and Ajla Sundstrom all have pieces in the show, ranging from paintings and sculptures, to prints and graphic design.
On Friday, several of the seniors received the honor of having their work purchased by the university. One student, senior Wyatt Dickson, was awarded the Harold Spitznagel Medal for Achievement in Art, the highest award that the Augustana Art department can bestow. This prestigious award goes to a person who exemplifies high achievement in art. Last given to a student in 2014, it is only awarded occasionally.
Art professor Tom Shields appreciated the diversity and strength of the pieces in this year’s senior art show.
“We have so many strong students that we had a difficult time paring it down during the jury process,” Shields said. “It’s such a rich variety. I think the quality of work is stronger than many past shows that we’ve had.”
“I think one of the most interesting things is that we have a class of 11 seniors and our work is so different,” said Alex Meyer. “That’s not something that they teach us. They give us the basics, the rules, and then we take that and create our art from there. I think it’s exciting to be a part of that.”
The diversity in the senior art show is evident even in where each student draws inspiration.
Mara Morrill, who has five pieces in the show, sits down to create something when she is most affected by her emotions. Some of her pieces were inspired by feelings of love—two of her pieces in the show are scenes from her first date with her now husband—while others were inspired by anger. She said was able to create one of her best figure drawings because she was “fired up” after an argument.
Brooke Christenson, who has two photographs and two paintings in the show, likes art that makes people question things, which is what drew her to abstract painting.
“I think it’s fun to put some random marks on a canvas and make a story out of it, but I love to have my viewers make their own story to go along with it,” she said. “I think there should be no rules to it at all. It’s my artwork that I created, but it can be your piece that you want it to be.”
Finding different ways to embrace the freedom of art was a goal for Connor Bergh.
“I’m one who is particularly fond of math, sciences and structure organization, so the freeness of art is something that has been confusing,” Bergh said.
He focused on geometric structure in some of his paintings and graphic design pieces which ended up in the show. His ceramics pieces were “free-flowing and intuitive-based,” he said.
Meyer takes a more analytical approach to his art. He likes to create pieces that make him think about moments and memories in new ways.
“Often I’ll react to a moment I’ll encounter when I’m just walking around,” Meyer said. “If I walk through a garden and there are tons of butterflies, that’s inspirational to me, thinking about the pattern of the butterfly and what we recognize as a butterfly and what we can create through repetition of those shapes that isn’t a butterfly.”
Both Meyer and Christenson said Shields was a particularily influential art professor to their work.
“He’s really supportive of my journey as a painter and the work that I’ve been doing recently,” Meyer said. “I enjoy his work and him being able to appreciate a variety of artists.”
Dagne Ode also mentioned Shields, saying that he sparked her interest in graphic design. Taking her first graphic design class with him made her realize that graphic design was what she wanted to do career-wise. That prompted her to add a business major to her art major so that she could eventually do graphic design for businesses.
Overall, the art faculty is “very aware of where their art sits within the grander art scheme and where our art sits as students,” Meyer said. “They’re able to help us sort of project our art onto the larger scale of art antiquity and history and contemporary art.”
“Anybody in the art department is wonderful,” Christenson said. “If you want to put the time into it, they’ll work with you, and that’s really nice to have.”
The senior art show will be on display in the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery until May 19.
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