Senior Art Exhibition shows off student work

The 2015 Senior Art Exhibition, “The Ghosts of Carnegie Hall,” officially opened on Friday, Dec. 4 at Lord Hall Gallery with a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., showing off soon-to-be graduates’ best pieces of work.
The show will run until Jan. 22 and display various artwork created by 14 UMaine studio art students graduating either in December or the spring.

James Linehan, professor of art and coordination of the exhibition, said the art department has two regularly scheduled exhibitions of student work each year, which are the Senior Exhibition in the fall semester and the annual Student Art Exhibition, open to all students, at the end of the spring semester. The senior exhibition is their capstone experience and is similar to a final exam.

The students mat and frame their work, hang it and help advertise the show as well as light the work, prepare the gallery and host the opening, according to Linehan.

“Learning to professionally present and exhibit your work is a must for all artists, and I love being the one who helps them understand the necessity of adhering to industry standards,” Linehan said.

With their work on display, students get a chance to talk with their friends, family, teachers and strangers about their art and answer questions. For many students it is the first time that they have taken themselves seriously as artists, Linehan said.

“I really enjoy introducing young artists to the world of professional exhibitions. That small drawing they do looks completely different after matting and framing is done, and then when it is hung and well lit, placed next to other great work they see whole new possibilities for their work and their future,” Linehan said.

“There is so much work that goes on in our department that goes on behind closed doors. With art being a vehicle for expression, creativity and imagination, an artist reveals themselves by way of making something that, in some form, exposes who they really are,” Scott Powers, a fourth-year studio art and graphic design student, said.

Andrea Rickards, a fourth-year studio art and art education student, said she thinks the senior art exhibition is important because it is a culmination of all the work and experiences as a studio art undergraduate.

“There’s been a lot of valuable lessons learned as we’ve worked together and collaborated towards a common goal, and this exhibit surely wouldn’t have happened without the hard-work from everyone involved,” Rickards said.

Students have been planning the exhibit since the start of the semester, Rickards said. However, it isn’t until everything is in the gallery that the show starts to come together and feel real.

Rickards said it has been an amazing experience watching the show develop from the beginning stages to the hanging the work. She said most of the pieces she has on display have been made specifically for the show and she has spent countless hours on them from start to finish.

“Making art is a process, and with it comes an ebb and flow of ups and downs. Needless to say, it’s pure magic when the pieces are finally hung with the gallery atmosphere and lighting to go with it,” Rickards said.
The show has a wide selection of printmaking, paintings, photographs and sculptures, according to Rickards.
“It makes me see my own work in a different way, especially once it’s framed, leveled and sitting behind the glass,” Powers said. “I’m extremely happy and grateful to have the opportunity to hang my work without the added pressures that might come from working with a different gallery outside of the university.”
Powers will have traditional and digital prints displayed in the exhibition. He said his art deals with space, perspective and geometry but at the same time tries to represent complex ideas in a simpler way.

“The biggest benefit from printmaking is the limited editions of prints, and the hand inking/printing adds a value that isn’t there with images only on a computer screen,” Powers said.

Most of Rickards’ art is fiber art-related, she said, including some of small woven wall-hangings, a large felted tapestry and a series of photographs printed on fabric. She said fiber has been used in art for hundreds of years and hopes to pay tribute to the tradition of fiber as an art medium.

“I greatly enjoy working with fiber as an art medium because of how tactile it is, and I also find it is an apropos medium given how much inspiration I draw from nature,” Rickards said.
Linehan said one of his favorite parts of what he does is being able to work with the new art students time and time again.

“I have taught now for forty years and I love the process of mentoring each new ‘crop’ of matriculating young artists,” Linehan said. “Some of them will go very far, and some will rarely exhibit again. But I want this show to be an important milestone for each of them no matter what they do in the future.”

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