MC senior art exhibits on display at Clayton Center

MC senior art exhibits on display at Clayton Center

May 7, 2012
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer

The work of six Maryville College senior art majors, Sterling Thomas, Chase Newman, Crystal Krausser, Hunter Acosta, Lucy Cleek and Katherine Brestel, will be on exhibit through May 20 in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Blackberry Farm Gallery and the Denso Community Gallery.

The title of the show is “Tradition Aside.” An opening reception was held May 7. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“The senior exhibit features works the students have prepared as part of their Senior Study requirement,” said Dr. Carl Gombert, professor of art. “The senior project is an independent study that encourages students to create a meaningful body of work devoted to a particular subject or theme. The senior project spans two semesters and involves six credit hours of work.”

Thomas, an art major from Chattanooga, is showing a poster presentation titled “Building with Consciousness” in the Denso Community Gallery.

For his project, Thomas, who aspires to study architecture after graduation, analyzed the architectural elements of three buildings on the Maryville College campus: the Clayton Center for the Arts, Crawford House and Thaw Hall.

“I wanted to learn more about the intricacies within the realm of architecture, physical and metaphysical, in the aims of becoming a better architect myself,” Thomas said.

Throughout the project, Thomas explored three different areas within the realm of the architectural practice. First, he analyzed physical spaces as they relate to the function of the room. Next, he looked at the psychological features of why and how the physical space relates to the overall structure. Finally, he aimed to “take a holistic view of how the building speaks to us and how it shapes our daily lives.”

He said he chose the three buildings because they are each very different in scope. The Clayton Center for the Arts is a new building, Thaw Hall is an older but multi-purposed building, and Crawford House has a new sustainability focus, he explained.

To learn more about the creation process of each building, he interviewed the lead architects, interior designers, residents, construction managers and financial grantors. He then analyzed the blueprints, preliminary sketches and ideas “to further explore and understand how successfully the building adheres to its initial function and how the form affects the residents of the building on a daily basis.”

“Understanding how we as humans respond to certain spaces via emotion and cognition are important questions that are essential to building a better future,” he said.

Newman, an art major from Pleasant View, Tenn., is showcasing a collection titled “Ornamentalism” in the Blackberry Farm Gallery.

His exhibit includes a generic kitchen sink, upon which he used acrylic paint to create intricate Victorian patterns; an iron covered in Indian henna designs, which he created with spray paint through the use of a “relief-esque” technique; a toilet that has been painted to resemble the psychedelic concert posters of the 1960s; a bathroom scale adorned with Celtic knot work; a Greek vase-inspired saucepan; and a hairdryer covered in Islamic patterns.

“This work explores ornamental design styles from a variety of cultures and time periods, and how they can be used to inject a sense of aesthetic consideration into the mundane, utilitarian objects we use in our everyday lives,” Newman said in his artist statement. “I feel that there is no reason why objects of this nature shouldn’t be created with a consideration for aesthetics in mind, so this is my attempt to display examples of directions that could be taken in the design of such objects. Essentially, I am taking my own custom designs that I have created from each of the styles I examined and placing them onto objects that are designed with only functionality in mind.”

Krausser, an art major from Lenoir City, Tenn., is showcasing a collection of drawings titled “Exploring the Human Figure” in the Denso Community Gallery.

Krausser, who was raised in Japan, has been drawing since an early age. She was inspired by her Japanese cousin, who was talented in drawing the Japanese style of comics and animation known as manga and anime.

“I like to draw in general, whether it is a person, animal or an object,” Krausser wrote in her artist statement. “This includes the style of realism, manga and anime and any other form possible. I like to experiment with different mediums, and I sometimes work with mixed media. Although I have multiple interests, I know that I want to focus on exploring the human figure. For this project, I concluded that my theme would be ‘exploring the human figure,’ to allow me room to explore other styles and mediums to pursue my statement.”

Acosta, an art major with an emphasis on visual communication from Memphis, Tenn., is showcasing a collection of spray paint t-shirt designs titled “God Bless A…” in the Blackberry Farm Gallery.

Acosta, whose influences include modern street artists Banksy and Shepard Fairey, as well as musical artists Lupe Fiasco, The Roots, Common and Blue Scholars, used aerosol on t-shirts and canvas to create the 12 pieces for his show. Every piece in the show will be auctioned off and proceeds will be given to the local nonprofit Africa Education & Leadership Initiative (Africa ELI).

“I am interested in irony, social responsibility of business, street art, guerrilla marketing and T-shirts,” Acosta wrote in his artist statement. “I decided to combine my love for street art and graphic design into my senior project. What I am working on currently for my senior thesis is taking an image and through one tweak or misdirection making it mean something totally different. I do not want to tell the viewer what they are meant to say. Like Banksy, I want the viewer to decide what they mean to each individual person.”

He chose to put the designs on T-shirts as “an experiment to see how far loyalty lies.”

“When a person wears a T-shirt, they are actively endorsing and advertising that set of ideals or mindset for the world to see,” he said.

Cleek, an art major from Kingsport, Tenn., is showing an installation titled “Sinful Living” in the Blackberry Farm Gallery.

“I’m interested in recurring themes in humanity, like the Seven Deadly Sins,” Cleek said. “The sins represent different parts of nature.”

In developing her project, she thought about and researched the following questions: So why did we create this list of sins in the first place? Why has society put so much weight into them, and how have they changed over time? How have they been represented by different artists?

She concluded that the sins are not harmful except in excess and are found in all people. She decided to represent the sins as living room furniture, because “the living room is a familiar space in someone’s house,” and the Seven Deadly Sins are also universal to everyone’s lives.

“Most of the supplies and images I used are recognizable and ordinary, too,” Cleek said. “Although some of the ways I depicted the sins are not in the best of light, I hope to show that these specific vices aren’t thing to be ashamed of, but things that we all have in common.”

Brestel, an art major from Knoxville, Tenn., is showcasing a collection of nine paintings and photographs titled “Reclaiming” in the Denso Community Gallery.

Brestel, who has been fascinated by art and tattoos “for as long as I can remember,” based her study upon the tattoo’s evolution, defining the tattoo’s rebirth and its place among the fine arts.

She said that the media of her work relates to the process of applying pigment to skin and the effects of the artificial lens – a concept she derived from the work of artist Alexa Meade.

“While some works may have the appearance of a painting, they are photographs comprised of paintings and drawings on live models,” Brestel explained. “During each session, the models and backgrounds are painted simultaneously and then photographed.”

Only one of her works is an actual painting for which she used no reference material, she said.

“My aim is to subvert the belief system that leads to society’s creation of artificial images and the unnatural veil that forms around every individual,” she said. “I invite the viewer to make record of the events that occur within proximity to each work and how one’s perspective changes.”

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.