Students Create, Display Artwork for Senior Art Show

Ten Southern Virginia University students created pieces, each using a different medium and expressing a different theme, for the annual Senior Art Show, which is on display this week in the Corridor Gallery, Main Hall and the Fawson Alumni House.

Each of the seniors gave a presentation last week at the art show’s opening. They discussed their artistic influences, the themes and concepts of their artwork, and the process of creating their pieces. Each student finished by responding to questions from the assembled audience.

“The senior art show is the capstone experience for the art majors here at Southern Virginia,” said Professor Doug Himes, the art program coordinator. “The most fun comes when you see a student opening a door on something that was right there and they never knew. That usually means they are working on things that surprise them. The confidence that students develop is amazing because they are relying on their own intuitive capability without knowing beforehand what the outcome will be. They learn to do that to a lesser extent during their undergraduate tenure here but it really comes to a head in senior show.”

During the past semester, students created a body of work in a chosen medium and learned how to frame, hang and display artwork. Their experience included attending the National Gallery of Art to learn how professional artwork is displayed. Students created their pieces using a wide variety of mediums including graphite, acrylic, charcoal, drypoint, monotype, mixed media, colored charcoal, glass mosaic, etching and aquatint, and Bristol board and colored plastic.

Amanda Cowan, a senior from Laguna Beach, Calif., used mixed media to portray aspects of the theme of her artwork: seeing the world through the eyes of someone with learning disabilities.

“I do art because it’s part of who I am and it helps me solve problems,” said Cowan. “I have some learning disabilities and it’s through art that I’ve been able to process things better and explain things better. I wanted my senior show to focus on something that I knew really well and had a lot of experience thinking about and dealing with so that when I did my senior show it [would] come from a lot of feelings and emotions and I could express that.”

Cowan said that attending Southern Virginia has helped her learn how to think and to love learning.

“Southern Virginia has influenced me because it made me realize that there’s not just one set way for everybody, but there are lots of different directions and avenues that we can go,” said Cowan. “It gave me the confidence to be brave enough to choose one of those ways that before coming here I didn’t think was a possibility.”

Zach Simiskey said that his Southern Virginia professors have helped him to find his own artistic voice. For the senior art show, he created 3-foot by 4-foot charcoal drawings focusing on images from dreams.

“My favorite medium would have to be charcoal because it’s not just drawing, I use my hands the whole way through, I blend it — each finger does a different style of blending,” said Simiskey. “I feel like it’s a very intimate medium because you have to be so involved and pay attention to every little thing. [My drawings] have a surreal dream-like aspect to them. For the show I’m expressing my beliefs in the best way I know how to, and that’s through art.”

The senior art show will be on display until Saturday, April 27.

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