2022 Senior Thesis Exhibitions
Holding a gaze
After many years being a student who didn’t like taking suggestions, I have slowly learned how to get out of my comfort zone. I studied figure drawing and painting as a stubborn student, with little awareness that it was going to become my favorite subject. I started enjoying drawing the human body and all the expressions I could get out of different facial features. There is a certain appeal to convey emotions through my art, as I have exhaustively looked at stiff European paintings for most of my student career. Whether I work with a variety of colors or in a monochromatic way, my purpose is always to find more ways to portray the unique features that a person possesses. Focusing on faces has made my art about personal details, things like body hair and wrinkles become indispensable. I develop compositions that leave me feeling a specific sentiment. In the process, I become less expectant of results and focus on the mood, and how it can develop countenance. The purpose of my current work is making the audience feel overwhelmed or emotional while looking at my art. I enjoy finding expressiveness in each person and their features, and hope that the audience will hold a gaze long enough to discover their uniqueness too.
Diana Rodrigues Aragon
Forgotten Memories: Artist Statement
Time comes and goes and often the forgotten memories are not the ones that get painted and hung up on a wall. Throughout time, our phones get filled with pictures that one does not go back to. Hence, why these paintings are of memories that were not planned. Moments in time where one was not posed or ready. Moments in time where the true memory is captured because of the rawness and vulnerability. Images captured in a second. In such instances light and colors play a big role in helping our brains preserve memories. These paintings demonstrate the way light affects the subject and how the colors tend to change. The main subject comes into focus with very little to no background, to symbolize the importance of the person.
This resembles how I choose to live my life, not thinking twice but choosing the memory over something that takes time to pose for. Candids. Most of the work I do comes from photographs taken by me. Some are thoughtful processes but I find the most interesting ones are not planned for. There is beauty in everything. Especially in the moments that happen in a second but will last a lifetime.
What Makes Purple?
Not everyone might feel this way but there is just something about how different colors can express particular emotions and feelings. For instance, green can equal and represent nature’s beauty, jealousy, or disgust. Or Blue can be calming, sad, lonely. Or red being angry, outgoing, fierce. Keeping that in mind I want my viewer to think about: How does red make them feel? How does blue make them feel? How do they make purple? How do the colors represent the each other? Embrace the colors in how they are different but yet can have relation to one another. For it is a beautiful story.
Using Lisa Yuskavage, Will Cotton, and Greek mythical sculpture as my main inspiration, Color and texture became the key part to these paintings because they brought to life the scenes portrayed. The paintings should feel as if the viewer is physically there, seeing different scenes from different perspectives. Not one painting should feel the same but still tell a story of how they come together. On the one end is the fiery raith and chaos of Hades, a piece in mostly all red but hints of blue. On the other side is the sweet dreamy elegance of Persephone, in blue with hints of red. Only to meet the middle piece in all purple with hints of both red and blue. The middle piece is the balance of the two. How two individuals can balance eachother out together. The side pieces represent how the male figure and woman figure can be alone sometimes: wild vs sweet. As for the middle it shows how the male figure brings out the fun in the woman, look at how she mischievously takes the photo in the mirror. As for the male figure the woman brings out the love and sensitive side of him. This is my story of how red and blue become purple.
I come from a family of nine girls, yes a rather large immediate family. My sisters are my bestest friends in the whole world, they are everything to me. While I’ve seen this as a major blessing in my life, it also has its cons. Growing up we’ve all been grouped together in one way or another; whether it’s being called “one of the cruz girls” or “Eligio and Fifa’s Daughters”. People have always clumped us together. I wanted my artwork to convey all the different and amazing personalities we all have to share. Our own identities. Yet of course our many similarities and our strong bond to each other. My choice to work with monochromatic tones, was to convey just that and the aura I see in each of them. The various geometric shapes and elements tell a bit of each other their interests and personalities. Achieving this by taking inspiration from the Bauhaus movement, with my typography, simplistic color scheme and the geometric abstract shapes.
As well as inspiration from Kehindle Wiley who designed Obama’s presidential portrait, and Zoran Cardula, I was drawn to their stylized yet simplistic portraits. A Graphic Design take on portrait making. I want my family members and any viewers walking into the gallery to not only feel each personality of my family, as well as the warmth and bond that we have with one another. This is my homage to my greatest support team.
Who Am I?
My work is a representation of my life’s journey that made me the person I am today. My overall vision is for people to know who I am and learn more about my thoughts and ideas. My work can have many interpretations which is what I like most about art that is abstract. I want to know how others interpret my work because in the end art is subjective and everyone will have their own interpretation and response to what I create.
Roaul de Keyser and Thomas Nozkowski, two contemporary artists who have inspired me, have allowed me to expand my horizons and have also allowed me to go beyond previous work. Through learning about Nozkowski’s and de Keyesr’s processes, I have begun to use painter’s tape in my work and I have also refrained from toning the whole canvas which is something that was done in my previous work.
I don’t have a certain technique when it comes to my work. I often find myself looking at the canvas and that’s when the ideas usually come to mind. When I create a painting I often do it without even thinking. My painting Eight Chop-ful of Surgeries is the only one that I don’t consider abstract because the meaning of it is something from past experiences. It is abstract in the sense that people that don’t know me will be curious about what the numbers represent.
Amanda J. Harvey
Damsels in Success
In society and pop-culture women are typically perceived as “damsels in distress.” Media often depicts male characters as physically or emotionally rescuing a woman who is otherwise helpless. Misogynistic attitudes and beliefs are unfortunately ingrained in our society. There is this societal ideology that a woman is incomplete or unsuccessful without a man or significant other; or that a woman is in constant pursuit of one. My exhibition focuses on representing females who are independent and outspoken. I create depictions of women from mainstream media who are refusing to bend to societal beliefs. Each painting illustrates a female pop-culture icon who is candid about being independent and self-sufficient. I include humor/satire in my artwork to address serious issues in a relatable yet alleviating way. Including a humorous phrase or dialogue in the speech bubbles of the paintings creates a visually appealing appearance, while encouraging an internal conversation within the viewer on a topic that is serious.
Overtime I have developed my particular artistic niche, which involves painting in a pop-art style. The text bubbles allow me to create a visual narration that can communicate its message directly with the viewer. The vivid colors exhibit a cheerful and playful emotion, contrasting with the satire of the narration. Painting these female icons in bright saturated colors emphasizes the attention on these women, highlighting their strength and independence. For this exhibition I painted on a larger scale than I typically would. The larger scale ended up emphasizing the importance of representing women who are strong and independent, in order to change the stigma of shame around being outspoken about it. My artwork was greatly influenced by artist Ashley Longshore. Her female empowering subject matter was a source of inspiration. Longshore’s embellishment of her paintings with application of crystals, sequins, etc. was something that I wanted to incorporate in my artwork. The addition of the diamond embellishments compliment the pop-art style while highlighting the greatness of these female icons.
When Life Gives You
For three semesters throughout my college career, I sat in a classroom taking notes on the history of art. This history began with the first known piece of artwork and led me to modern art pieces we have all come to know and love. As I sat in my seat, awestruck by the architecture, sculptures, and paintings I realized that I do not love one movement of art – I love all of them.
In eleventh grade, I made a watercolor painting of lemons. This painting was recognized by friends and strangers, was put on my school’s website, and was submitted to the county-wide Teen Arts Competition. It was this painting that showed me I could make art people wanted to see.
This exhibition revisited the subject matter of lemons and combined it with my love of art history. It is a subject perhaps only important to me, spread across time to illustrate my passion for the history of art and all the iconic works it has to offer. By default, the show is modern. I used modern materials, and portrayed each lemon-infused movement in a way only a 21st century artist could do. I sourced from broad moments of art history and renowned artists’ work – moments like early Asian art, Catholic mosaics, cubism, and artists like Michelangelo, Jackson Pollock, and Sarah Cain.
These works are joyous, funny, and filled with wonder of art’s history. They depict the notion that when life hands you creativity, you make art. When life pushes you toward a subject, you depict it in every way you can. And when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.
Life of Nature
As a child, I remember seeing the world in vivid colors regardless of the happenings that took place around me. I played outside on the earthly green grass while also getting a sense of the small specks of rocks within different shapes, gently picking up the rolly pollies and patiently waiting for them to unravel their ball-like shield, just so I can touch their shell one more time before letting them go back to their dainty insect journeys. I was in constant wonderment of the nature that surrounded me.
Within the last decade of making art, I often devoted my time improving my skills by producing observational drawings and other representational artwork. As I have enjoyed my years of making this category of work, it never really filled the void in my heart- something was just missing. Attending Caldwell University for the last four years changed everything for me and how I saw the art world. I often think about the breakthrough I made in my Junior Comprehensive course, and if it weren’t for my mentors in the art department I wouldn’t have discovered my absolute love for painting.
The past year I have been influenced by the works of Inka Essenhigh, Neo Rauch, and Odilon Redon. Their works motivated me to make the art that I love. They relate with one another because of their dream-world aspect and great imaginative pieces. Although they are different in terms of subject matter, they carry a commonality in terms of principles and elements of design. I am usually stubborn and picky with my influences, but I am so whole-heartedly glad that these three artists inspired me and my work.
I create imagination-based dreamworlds that demonstrate my love for nature as it is also a reflection of my spirituality and faith. Each piece is a dream world that I would feel secure and content in. I want my audience to feel safe and warm while also wanting to jump inside the painting and become part of its existence. My art is both overwhelming and confusing yet peaceful and recognizably strange. The life of nature is indefinitely thriving and the pieces I have birthed emphasize how precious and divine it is.
The nature of creating is not a linear concept for me, instead I am in a constant battle and state of flux with myself as an artist and historian. There is a struggle between my two sides and each work references my frustrations. These frustrations stem from the rigid and traditional academic structure I know, the reliance on representationalism and the prominence of traditionalism in courses, as well as my inner battle as artist and historian.
This has led me towards working non-objectively and stripping away representationalism and traditionalism within my work. As I create I do so with no set plan or thought, with no reference. The outcome is a composition of pure form stemming from emotion. The artist side is prominent in each painting, while the conceptual nature of this body of work stems from my historian side. I acknowledge the need to decipher and dissect works as a historian. As an artist I am trying to break away from that constant need. I battle the needing to understand and the need to accept. These paintings do not depict anything yet the titles lead to the idea that they do. There is this push and pull and ambiguity present, just as within myself.
Threads of Femininity
Threads of Femininity started as a way to combine my two hobbies: reading romance books and crocheting. I have been an avid reader for years and, as a graphic designer, book jacket design has always intrigued me. I love how the outward appearance of a book can communicate an entire story. Unlike reading, crochet is relatively new to me. I began crocheting when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. When I decided to put the two together for my senior show, I realized that romance books and crocheting had one thing in common: women.
In Threads of Femininity, I have been able to explore the way reading has helped women break away from traditional female roles while playing with the traditional associations of crocheting. As women write and read more romance, they learn more about themselves. They learn about what they look for in a partner, what a safe, consensual relationship can look like, and what sexual acts pique their interest. Romance novels have raised the voices of the oppressed female population.
Where romance books have uplifted women, crochet has become a symbol of the restraints society places upon the female population. Like needlepoint or embroidery, crochet is considered a woman’s craft. In Threads of Femininity, I have taken the connotations of crochet and made it my own. By crocheting onto canvases, I have rendered the pieces’ original purpose useless. Each crochet piece is now free from patriarchal constraints. Furthermore, each book has its own unique stitch that references the content of the romance novel and the genre it is representing.
All five covers I have redesigned represent the five most popular romance subgenres: historical romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and erotica. By incorporating different stitches as a background in my book jacket designs, I have applied female empowerment to crochet just like the romance genre has done for women. Within Threads of Femininity, crochet has transformed into more than just a craft; it has become a new symbol for female empowerment.