Photo by Genevieve Humphreys
Confessional: now available in places of worship, online chatrooms, and the Michael and Noemi Neidorff Art Gallery. On Thursday, April 25, eight senior art majors opened their capstone exhibition entitled “Eight Confessions.”
The participants this year are Magdalen Cheatham, Liz Day, Anna Laflin, Beverly Morabito, Delfina Morales, Julia Poage, Danielle Trevino and Abigail Wharton. According to Wharton, the senior capstone for the Art major is a year-long class that covers theory in the fall and then moves into the process of putting on an art showcase in the spring.
“We really fed on this collaborative group experience,” Wharton said.
Cheatham, Wharton and Poage all expressed appreciation for the deep involvement of the capstone students with all aspects of the exhibition.
“As students, we get a lot of creative control, which is really exciting. Everything from what we’re producing to how we’re representing it is our responsibility. We put together the wall labels, the lighting design, all the promotional materials- everything down to the last details of opening night,” Wharton said. “Everything is really bent on this being a professional experience as much as an academic one so that as artists, we’re prepared to really go out into the community and do everything that we want to do. I really value it.”
The title for the exhibition took some time to come together.
“We’re all so completely different that we can’t just say: ‘this show is about family’ or ‘this show is about identity’ because while these [are] sub-themes that exist, there are always outliers,” Poage said. “But we’re all coming at it subjectively because it’s art, and that’s where the aspect of confessions comes in for all of us.”
Wharton agrees with Poage’s assessment of the artists’ differences.
“We chose the title ‘Eight Confessions’ because we realized kind of common to the show is that all eight of us are taking a really introspective approach, and we want to talk about what these subjects mean to us personally and why they have such a big impact on us, so I would say that the confessional aspect is our common thread,” Wharton said.
Wharton’s piece, called “The House Left of Perdition,” is a series of sculptures.
“I am a gay woman who was kind of ostracized from a really conservative evangelical religious group for my sexuality and pretty much that alone, so I’ve been looking at the intersection of queerness and spirituality for my artworks,” Wharton said.
Cheatham also works in sculpture and has titled her piece “Self-Growth.” According to Cheatham, it includes insight into her romantic relationship, imagery of a butterfly’s metamorphosis and is inspired by her research in the Department of Psychology.
“I’ve taken these very different materials and laid out a confession to myself and to others in the audience who view my work about the growth that I feel I’ve undergone in a positive way and who’s responsible for that and giving a visual to these psychological concepts that I’ve been studying,” Cheatham said.
Poage’s pieces use a combination of gouache, colored pencils and watercolor paints and focus on the way personal identity interacts with ancestry.
“My Triptych is called ‘Silva Rerum,’ which means ‘forest of things’ in Latin. That’s a term that was used by Polish nobility — not that I am Polish or nobility. They had big books that they passed down through generations, which becomes their genealogical record,” Poage said. “They all deal with issues of identity, issues of narrative, issues of confession, just questioning, ‘How we can form our own identity, how much of our identity is inherited from our parents, how much of it can we say is our own?”
“Eight Confessions” is a unique showcase because it coincidentally involves only female artists.
“I think it’s really rare to be able to do any kind of professional project with just women, and to do that was a really empowering experience,” Wharton said.
Cheatham was excited to be working with women as well.
“It’s been amazing because there’s always a stereotype that whenever you get three or more women in a group that they’re going to fight and bicker, but we’ve just blown that out of the water,” Cheatham said. “We’ve all been really professional and friendly about being able to critique each other in a kind and courteous manner.”
Poage appreciates the closeness of the group as well, but acknowledges how it can make the experience of exhibition more difficult.
“We’ve really talked so much with each other about those really personal aspects of our lives, so we as a group understand where each piece is coming from emotionally, but not every viewer is going to be your best friend,” Poage said.
Poage doesn’t want viewers to hide their reactions, though.
“In terms of college exhibitions, I think not a lot of our peers really engage. Clearly our friends are going to come support us and look at the work, but we don’t get a lot of feedback, and that’s what’s really crucial to our development as artists — discussing our concept, or how the work was made, or the origins of our ideas,” Poage said.
A viewer’s interpretation of art and the experiences that inspired the art piece, however, have a different meaning to Wharton.
“We’re looking not to have a dialogue but a representation of our experiences, to have some sort of record of our experiences — one that can’t be taken away or confronted or picked apart,” Wharton said.
“I think a lot of our work upon approaching it seems personal and concrete and … a representation of us, but I think that if the audience spends enough time sitting and thinking and contemplating our work that they’ll be able to extract their own interpretation and also apply the concepts that we were inspired by into their own thoughts about themselves — basically, to create a confession for themselves,” Cheatham said.
The opening reception on Thursday, April 25 will run from 5–7 p.m. and will offer free food in addition to the chance to view the artwork. The exhibition will remain open for viewing in the gallery through Saturday, May 18.