Potter Hall Brings in Creative Artistry

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After years of studying and countless hours of working, 15 graduating art students began displaying their best works in the Potter Hall Gallery on April 12.

The pieces that are on display highlight the different sections of the department of Art: sculptures, graphic design, prints, illustrations, ceramics and a painting. There is even a Flash interactive kiosk by student Stacie Williams.

“I Dream,” (left) a ceramic piece by Beth Penland, and “Axis/Ally industrial Teapots,” (right) a stoneware piece by Sam Perkins are two of many artworks from 15 senior art students being displayed in the Senior Art Exhibit that runs till May 13. For more coverage look at page 7. Photo | Matt Fowler

This year’s senior art exhibit is breaking with tradition and placing all the graduating art students’ pieces into a month-long show in the Potter Hall Fine Arts Gallery.

“In the past we’ve done smaller group exhibits, but we are growing at a capacity that we cannot continue that; we don’t have enough space to do that anymore,” said Professor Hriso, who teaches the senior seminar class that students take as a part of the senior show. “Our senior body has grown so much we have to change how the present the show.”

According to Western’s Research Data Institution, there were 211 art majors in the spring of 2009. This is up from 189 majors in the spring of 2005. Professor Geo Sipp, director of the gallery, attributes part of the growth to new bachelors of fine arts program.

He said because of the growth, having several different senior art shows now would not work because of the strain on the gallery.

“We are having somewhere in the range of 25 to 30 graduates a year, and that puts a great deal of stress on the gallery with its regular schedule. In order to accommodate everybody appropriately we would have to have three shows each semester. Well, that is counter-intuitive because it would inhibit us showcasing anybody else’s work,” Sipp said.

Another break from tradition and a result of the growth is the implementation of a juried process. The jury, which consists of the art faculty members for this first time, decided what would be displayed in the show.

“The best work will be chosen, and it raises the bar for all the students. They have to be good at what they do,” Hriso said.

Sam Perkins, who has eight pieces on display because of his double major in sculpture and graphic design, said that having 15 students showing their artworks presents a difficult challenge.

“It is hard to narrow your stuff down to two to four of your best items after all this work we have done over the years,” Perkins said.

Photo: Matthew Fowler

Lori Duff, who has four pieces in the exhibit, expressed the same concern, but sees a bright side to the issue.

“I feel that we are having a stronger show because this is the best of everyone’s best,” Duff said. “We spent all this time on getting this degree and we only show four pieces, so it bites but you have to look on the bright side and say ‘hey it’s saving me money.’”

She said that when they had the four to five members groups displaying their work, they would spend $250-300 on framing, matting and other materials preparing half-dozen or more pieces for their showing.
The issue with the gallery space and time is part of larger space issue at Potter Hall. In the fall of 2008, the Department of Fine Art lost their second floor gallery to make way for offices for the theatre and cinema faculty.

Sipp says the only solution to the gallery issue is with the proposed renovation and expansion of Potter Hall, and the possibility of new gallery spaces.

“What I would like to see happen is have a gallery space that is for outside exhibitors, a gallery space for students and a smaller specialty gallery that could be for faculty member who wants to show new work” Sipp said.

The exhibit itself contains pieces that highlight the different aspects of the Department of Fine Arts. They are photographs, illustrations, and a painting hanging on the gallery wall. In the center of the gallery are woodblock islands that contain sculpture pieces by Dana Noland, stoneware ceramics that mimic cast iron by Perkins, and graphic design packages by many of the senior art students.

The exhibit will run until May 13.

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