BFA senior exhibitions share the talents of graduating students

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A detailed shot of a large floor painting showing the intense emotion of Melissa Donlon's self portrait. Donlon's work was shown from April 22- 26 in the Mark A. Chapman Gallery. (Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

The Mark A. Chapman Gallery in Willard Hall buzzed with voices on Friday. Friends, family, coworkers and classmates came to the current exhibit’s reception to congratulate graduating seniors. This exhibit, held from April 22-26, was one of many Bachelor of Fine Arts senior exhibitions that showcase the work of graduating seniors.

Cory Crosby, senior in fine arts, concentrates on photography. For his portion of the exhibition, he lined a wall with large portraits without faces. The artwork included larger-than-life figures with green undertones.

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Cory Crosby is shown covering his face, mimicking the subjects of his work. Crosby's work was part of a BFA exhibition in the Mark A. Chapman Gallery in Willard Hall from April 22-26. (Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

“I gave the green tone throughout all of the to give it a more moody feeling,” Crosby said. “I feel like green is the color that could be something very exciting but also something that is also sickly.”

Crosby wrote in his artist’s statement that the topic of mental health drove him to cover the faces in his portraits.

“This series was influenced by Ralph Eugne Meatyard; similar to how he used masks in his photographs, I cover the face of my subjects to hide their identity and talk about mental health awareness,” Crosby’s statement said.

The works were open to interpretation, as some faces were covered with translucent materials and others with objects. Each portrait conveyed a different meaning for viewers.

“I show the people I got to know, but I cover their faces with different objects to hide their identity and explain what they are going through with life,” Crosby’s description continued.

Near Crosby’s artwork were the prints of Madeline Wolff, senior in fine arts. Wolff’s focus is in printmaking, and her portion of the exhibition featured prints full of color. Wolff also used a unique process to craft her prints.

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Madeline Wolff stands next to her prints. Wolff's prints consider memories, childhood and her own mortality. (Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

“Her process is realty quite unusual because she will roll paint and then take that roll and move in onto another print and then print that,” Katrin Bossmann, graduate student in fine arts, said. “So, she’s juxtaposing all of these different images on top of each other and doing a lot of experimentation.”

Wolff works with portraits and also just layers of color. Her work combines many different textures and elements into each piece.

“A lot of my work is inspired by my grandma,” Wolff said. “She has dementia and now she’s got Alzheimer’s, and a lot of it was thinking through the fact I’m probably going to get it one day.”

Wolff’s work shows her own feelings of mortality. She said she wants the viewer to think through their own memories and maybe even their own mortality.

“I think I want them [the viewer] to think though their own nostalgia but also have them reflect on their own childhoods,” Wolff said.

Wolff’s artwork shared wall and floor space with Melissa Donlon, senior in fine arts.

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Melissa Donlon poses with her artwork at the reception for her BFA senior exhibition. (Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

“As a wife of a deployed soldier, feelings of loneliness, loss, exhaustion and constant fear for my husband’s life are continual and unshakeable,” Donlon’s statement said.

Her painting and printmaking backgrounds were mixed together throughout her portion of the exhibition. Donlon presses into a piece of paper, leaving an indentation behind. She will then paint around the indentation or leave it blank to allow the viewer to only see the indentation itself.

“I put off making my work for a long time, longer than I should have, because it really pulls at my heart and it was difficult to work with,” Donlon said.

Donlon said she was able to share her work with her husband even though he’s deployed.

“I got to Skype with him; I didn’t tell him anything about my paintings because I knew it would be emotional for him as well,” Donlon said. “So I kind of waited and sprung it on him, and I said, ‘OK, babe, we’re going to Skype and I’m going to walk you around the gallery and show you.’ I think it really touched him.”

Seth Strand, senior in fine arts, also uses his artwork to portray the military experience. Strand has a concentration in drawing.

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Seth Strand stands next to his charcoal drawings in the Mark A. Chapman Gallery on Friday. Strand's work details his experiences in the military. (Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

“The series of self-portraits portrays a specific moment in my life, a moment of chaos,” Strand wrote in his artist’s statement. “The content comes from May 4, 2013. My convoy in the Maiwand district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan was on mission to clear the highway one of debris from wreckage. On route back to base, our convoy was struck with a 450 [pound] improvised explosion device. As the driver [of] the lead vehicle in the convoy, the only thing I could do while the rest of the team loaded the bodies onto a helicopter was sit.”

The darkness and emotion of this statement and experience was carried into Strand’s large charcoal drawings. His subject was himself.

The charcoal drawings are drawn over so many times that the repetitive process created a deep, velvet-like texture on the canvas. All the work showed Strand’s head, processing, screaming, going through grief. Some of the portraits have so much charcoal that the face is hard to see. Strand’s work makes the emotional state of the figure immediately recognizable.

The final artist displaying their work in the BFA exhibition was Jarron Clopton, senior in fine arts. Clopton’s focus is in digital arts.

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Family members of Jerron Clopton take pictures of his work. Clopton's work was shown on Friday in the Mark A. Chapman Gallery (Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

“I am able to create a more precise and more detailed artwork and illustration using bright colors and the use of color tones that add depth and a different view to certain objects.” Clopton said. “Portraits, sneakers, abstract objects, self-expression through a storytelling. Imaginary and emotionally I bring excitement to my artwork and want your eyes to wonder all around the canvas and not just in more area.”

Clopton’s poster-sized works feature iconic figures, silhouettes and shapes. Clopton also uses bright, clear colors in his work.

“I hope people can get an appreciation for the digital art world, because you know art doesn’t all have the same value such as painting or charcoal drawings, or something like that,” Clopton said. “But I know in the near future, digital is going to be everywhere.”

The Mark A. Chapman Gallery will be hosting three more Bachelor of Fine Arts senior exhibitions before the semester ends. Information about these exhibitions can be found on the art department’s website.

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