BFA exhibits up through May 12


Left to right: Forrest Mattern, Kali Covell and Mikayla Messier

On Thursday, May 3, Johnson State College seniors Kali Covell, Mikayla Messier and Forest Mattern presented their senior Bachelor of Fine Arts thesis exhibitions and accompanying artist talks.

On the rainy spring afternoon, the Julian Scott Memorial Gallery was packed with students, teachers, faculty, family members and friends, all there to view and support the culmination of the seniors’ artistic careers at JSC.

Mikayla Messier, a transfer student from Endicott College, decided to switch her major from Interior Design to Studio Art once she arrived at JSC. However, her interest in interior spaces and how they can be manipulated still deeply influence her artwork.

Messier’s BFA show, titled “Inner Imagination,” was comprised of a large, white wooden box structure with four doors, one on each side of the square. Three of the four doors opened to a wall with a piece of her artwork displayed, which were abstract paintings on a variety of different fabrics, while the final fourth door opened into the center space of the box.

The box’s interior displayed Messier’s artwork: colorful oil paintings on large pieces of cardboard, the life-sized scenes covering the walls from floor to ceiling. One wall showed a nature scene with flowers and trees surrounding a wooden hut, grey bricks framing the edges of the scene. Another wall depicted the night sky and dark tree branches arching along and off the wall, with a small wooden door at the base of them, creating a 3D effect.

The other walls were more abstract. One wall featured colorful streaks of paint and different 3D shapes protruding off the wall, while the final wall featured a painting showing a mother elephant and her child.

“We don’t realize it, but every single day our moods are affected by the spaces we are in,” said Messier in her artist statement. “By changing color, size and light in a space it can influence how someone acts or feels.”

Covell’s BFA show, titled “Dare to Dream,” was comprised of photographs of toddlers and older children costumed as famous film characters, including characters from “Indiana Jones,” “Batman,” “Star Wars,” “Back to the Future” and “Footloose.”

Colorful Photoshopped posters running along her side of the gallery featured photographs of the costumed kids posing in action shots as their characters, easily recognizable, skillfully replicating the original famous film posters.

Covell said that photography has always been her medium of choice and knew that it would be part of her BFA thesis in some form.

“If you’ve ever seen my work, you know I do a lot of portrait work, particularly with children, just because I think they are super fun,” said Kovell in her artist talk. “I really enjoy the smiles and giggles that come along [when working with them].”

A mounted TV beside the posters played a short film, featuring scenes of the costumed kids play-acting as their characters in cute and humorous situations while they recited famous lines from the films and the theme songs from the movies played in the background.

Mattern’s BFA show, titled “Through My Own Eyes,” featured 17 hand-painted oil paintings depicting a variety of character portraits from the “Star Wars” film franchise. They realistically depicted a range of humans, droids and aliens, with Mattern’s artistic style boldly giving them their own life, their detailed textures and vivid reds, oranges, blacks and blues popping off the canvas.

Sixteen of these portraits depicted villains. Their square canvases, varying in size, were arranged in two separate groups. These groups were arranged on either side of the largest center portrait, which showed famous villain Anakin Skywalker, also known as Darth Vader, and his wife, Padme.

Scenes from various “Star Wars” films were projected over the large center portrait, which Mattern said was to show the torment that Darth Vader still experienced from his past.

Mattern spoke of his inspiration for his work as being his life-long love of “Star Wars” and how it has impacted his life throughout his childhood and to this day.

“For me, pop culture paintings are a way for people to easily connect with my artwork and be transported to a new place,” said Mattern in his artist statement.

Mattern’s, Messier’s and Kovell’s BFA exhibits will be on display in the Julian Scott Memorial Gallery from April 30 to May 12.