Ethan McGrath, Finding Atmosphere, 2023, Ceramic, wood, glaze, gold leaf, & wire
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery and the Department of Visual Arts at the College of the Holy Cross are pleased to present artwork by senior visual arts majors in the exhibition “ESSENCE,” on view from April 26 through graduation on May 26, 2023 at the Cantor Art Gallery, located in the new Prior Performing Arts Center.
The artists, Christian Bachez, Jianing Bai, Brooke Bailey, Aisena Cekrezi, Unique Grimes, Teaken Haggerty, Obiamaka Igwenagu, Ethan McGrath, Kate Nedorostek, Kendra Offermann, Emily Skilton, Noelle Ventura, and Olivia Wiatrowsk, will give presentations about their work in the Gallery during the Academic Conference on April 26, from noon to 2 pm. A celebratory opening will be held April 27 from 5:30 to 7 pm. These events are open to the public.
The artwork on view was developed during the year-long Studio Art Concentration Seminar, a rigorous capstone experience in which students are assigned an individual studio space and work to cultivate their artistic practice through experimentation, while also experiencing a variety of readings and community outings designed to expand their artistic vocabulary. Studio faculty serve as mentors, helping them to find their individual voice and develop a cohesive body of work. The artwork on view is selected by each of the students as being most representative of the process for them.
The artwork presented includes drawing, painting, sculpture and mixed media in figurative, landscape and abstract forms – reflecting the students’ range of interests and skills.
Christian Bachez is creating a mural painted directly onto a Gallery wall that seeks to honor a Holy Cross student who died in tragic circumstances in an off-campus incident a number of years ago. Bachez, who has been inspired by graffiti art from the time he was growing up, will create the mural in a similar style.
Jianing Bai is showing both large and small-scale sculptures based on the aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy. Bai, an international student from China, is interested in the gestural abstraction and embodied action of Chinese calligraphy, using her artwork as a means through which to connect to her Chinese heritage.
Brooke Bailey creates mixed media wall pieces, projections and interactive computer programs that investigate the boundaries between reality and the digital world. With a background in computer science, she uses both coding and physical techniques in her explorations of technology and human nature.
Aisena Cekrezi uses found pieces of leather and other textiles to create wall hangings which evoke a nostalgic view of landscapes, from the mountains of Albania to New England seascapes. She is interested in exploiting the sensory experience of her materials to connect viewers to the natural world, while using recycled materials. Her work is inspired by the textile and needle work of the women in her family.
Unique Grimes channels her experiences as a young woman who identifies as African American into collaged works that seek to counteract false narratives and stereotypes of blackness found in the media and popular culture. She hopes to create positive imagery and accurately portray the lives of people of color.
Teaken Haggerty creates hybrid sculptural paintings that extend beyond the canvas, reflecting her interests in psychology, music, pop culture, iconography, and cartoons. She cites the Grateful Dead as a source of inspiration for the psychedelic color and icons associated with them.
Obiamaka Igwenagu, the recipient of this year’s John Paul Reardon Medal – a Holy Cross award given annually to a graduating student for excellence in studio art – will exhibit several large-scale oil paintings that celebrate black women.
Ethan McGrath has created ceramic and mixed media sculptural works which incorporate painting. His work expresses his concerns for humanity and the planet. The largest work, a triptych altarpiece, was inspired by 16th-century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights.”
Kate Nedorostek’s work has been influenced by her coursework in mathematics, science and architecture. She will create an installation piece that incorporates concepts of light dynamics and optics, as well as a set of small, topographical reliefs.
Kendra Offerman explores the interplay of color theory through shaped acrylic paintings. She uses gestural mark-making and references painter Mark Rothko’s work as a source of inspiration.
Emily Skilton has created a series of photographs that use the camera to document the sensation of moving through water. She uses her own experience as a life-long swimmer to capture the motion of swimming, then digitally abstracts the imagery.
Noelle Ventura works in an improvisational manner to create wall and free-standing sculptures using wire and nylon material. Working intuitively, she responds directly to the material she is working with, allowing her pieces to evolve.
Olivia Wiatrowski will show large-scale drawings of women that seek to explore the complexities of contemporary womanhood and gender identity through gestural form, aesthetic harmony and distinct mark-making.
Meredith Fluke, director of the Cantor Art Gallery, Rachelle Beaudoin, professor of practice in visual arts who taught the seminar in the spring semester, along with professors Michael Beatty and Leslie Schomp, who taught the course in the fall, have guided the students throughout their artistic journeys this year. “We are happy to have the opportunity to present the work of the graduating senior majors in the Cantor Art Gallery each spring, and to give many of them their first professional gallery experience,” said Fluke.
The students have created a website to accompany the exhibition, which can be found at:
Academic Conference Presentations by Senior Studio Art Majors |Wednesday, April 26| 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Opening Reception | Thursday, April 27 | 5:30 – 7 p.m.
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