Exhibit highlights creative reflection


Rebecca Flieder

Lewis’ full collage of prints

Adriana Eldred, Will Lewis and Gillianne Sheppard presented their bachelor’s of fine arts (BFA) exhibits in the Julian Scott Memorial Gallery on Nov. 13.

Eldred and Lewis are both seniors in the Studio Arts BFA, and Sheppard is a senior in Media Arts. All three chose Phil Robertson, part-time faculty member in the Art department, as their BFA advisor. About 40 people showed for the event, which was supplemented with snacks, sparkling cider and cookies.

“I had the great pleasure that last year Gillianne, Adriana and Will all asked me to be their BFA advisor,” Robertson said, to start out the showing. “When we had our first meeting as a group at the start of the semester, it just worked out that they all wanted to be in the first show. It made it really easy for me. What made it easier is all three of these young artists are so organized and dedicated to their craft and has really created three very different but deeply engaging presentations. I could not be prouder of these three young people and I want to give them all a little round of applause.”

The show started with Eldred’s exhibit, which included four large painted canvases attached to the wall in a row. Each one was hidden behind a draped curtain. Eldred’s exhibit was called “Send Nudes and other terms of endearment,” and was meant to be a commentary on the lewd and silly messages (like “send nudes”) that men often harass women with. As a studio arts BFA and Journalism double major, Eldred spends a lot of her time between social media and art. This seemed like a great way to honor both in her exhibit.

Eldred started her talk explaining that she had spent the last semester in New Mexico as an exchange student and thought, during that time, that she might do painting related to her time in the Southwest. “But I just kind of felt like I have this platform that people are at least somewhat obligated to see,” she said. “I decided I should actually do something a little bit more important and in a little bit more complex way.”

“Being a woman in the 21st century, we often have to laugh at some of the things that we are texted as interactions on social media,” she said. “otherwise, we’d cry. I wouldn’t say I’m the most provocative or attractive person in the universe, but so many things have been said to me that were funny but came across as really mean or sexually objectifying. I wanted to highlight [them] and take the social media aspect out and look at it in the lens of real life.”

Eldred solicited audience participation before the event by asking people to write messages that made them laugh, cry, or angry. She put the best ones up on a pinboard between the second and third canvases.

Surprisingly, the canvases didn’t contain nudes. Each one was a portrait of some part of Eldred’s body, such as her face, back tattoo, or clothed side profile in a mirror. They all were responses to messages that Eldred had received.

While Eldred’s mastery of technique is clear, the side profile painting was by far the best. This one was a response to the message, “You look like you do anal.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but the wonky awkwardness of the salacious text very much contrasts with the content of the painting. The mix of clear self-portraiture mixed with semi-cartoonish color and shadow seemed to help parody the message as well.

Even though the paintings aren’t obscene, Eldred said from the beginning that she wanted to cover them as a statement. “When I was doing this piece of these works, I knew that I wanted to put these drapes in front of them to simulate in a way how it feels to read a text message that you’ve been sent. You’re in a very private area.”

Pinned crowdsourced messages included “The intimate part of our relationship is over,” and “hey angel face.”

Afterwards was Gillianne Sheppard’s exhibit, Crowned Feline Captures, (CFC) which seemed to be a mix of her different media arts. The exhibit included several photos, all of which were well-staged with a wide variety of subjects from cars to people in animal suits. In the middle, Sheppard chose to display three different videos which showed off her video editing and dancing talents. She also included a pinboard with her stickers, some screenprinted tees and a book full of other visual art, commissions for other people.

“What’s showing here is just a variety of work,” she said. “I wouldn’t say all the work is necessarily the best that I’m showcasing. I just wanted to show that I can take pictures of animals. I can take pictures of people skateboarding. I can do portraits, flowers, cars and people in animal costumes.”

Crowned Feline Captures is also the name of Sheppard’s photography business. She explained that she had been able to travel quite a bit with the money she had earned from commissions through CFC.

While I enjoyed the parts individually, it seemed to me that Sheppard is unsure of herself as an exhibition artist but has great success as a practitioner of commissioned photography. I would have liked to see what she thought was her “best work,” and I am confused as to why a student would show off anything but the best for a BFA exhibition.

Next up was Will Lewis’ exhibit, which included over 200 individual prints of 17 different images, colored to create a mosaic for a much larger picture. Each print contained an image of a Lewis family pet past or present, and the largest, colored image was a picture of Lewis as a child with his dog. “I wanted to do something in the form of reflection. And this is just a representation of the memories that I have.”

Lewis told a story of his father’s, who came home as a kid to powdered sugar all over the floor of the mudroom. He swept the floor, but the white spots from where the dog had licked the floor remained.

This displayed an incredible amount of dedication to printmaking, along with a fantastic attention to detail. “This was by far the most ambitious project that I have ever done,” Lewis said, laughing. “And it has really helped me push my work not only in quality, but in just the amount of work that I can do in such a short amount of time. I am looking forward to doing something like this again, but hopefully giving myself more time.”

Lewis used paint rollers and Q-tips in order to put paint in areas to make the larger picture out of the smaller prints.

Lewis’ skill is evident in this exhibit, and he spent many hours planning and putting together the full picture.

I always enjoy student work, but this set of BFA exhibits really blew me away. I expect that each artist will have much success as they continue their art after graduation.
The exhibit is up until Fri, Nov 22.