Laura Green ’18
Assistant Arts Editor
Jannotta Gallery in Hillyer Hall is currently filled with prints, paintings, sculptures and more, all created by students in 200- and 300-level studio art classes. Students from nine classes, including Painting I, Digital Multimedia and Photography II, are participating in the exhibit, which will be on display until March 22. The exhibit is bright, full and varied in medium, style and approach.
When entering the gallery, the first piece that stands out is Ingrid Wiemer’s ’18 “Beast,” created out of plaster applied directly to an armature. Its large, white, insect-like body appears to crawl on the ground, creepily life-like considering it’s clearly made of plaster. Another striking work at the other end of the gallery is a giant plush cube hanging from the ceiling with a sign saying “Please touch, smell, spin the cube, but be gentle!” attached nearby.
Another piece on display is Cassie Leone ’16 dreamy print depicting the Virgin Mary, which she created for Advanced Printmaking. The purple, marble-like backdrop is contrasted against the yellow rays behind Mary, who holds a celestial baby Jesus as moths and the 12 zodiac signs surround them. Leone, a studio art minor, said, “I was experimenting with religious/spiritual iconography and how it affects the viewer when certain aspects of a familiar icon are changed in curious ways.”
The Advanced Printmaking class also made a strong showing with Sophie Meacham’s ’18 print, which was inspired by the Talking Heads’s song “The Big Country.” In the song, the singer looks down from an airplane, feeling disconnected from the people below. Meacham said, “I have been grappling with a similar disconnect that, while I still refer to my hometown as home, I don’t really belong there anymore.”
“When thinking about the composition of the piece,” Meacham said, “I decided to make a long string of windows not only make the viewer feel as if they are transported away and into an airplane, but also to convey the feeling of a never-ending travel or search.”
Casey Rau ’16 said of Advanced Printmaking, it “allows for a lot of freedom. Our professor, Lindsey Clark-Ryan, really pushes us to understand why we are making art and what message or story we are trying to convey. It is really important for art to tell a story.”
Dominique Denbow ’16, also in the class, added, “In this class, I am really challenged learn a new technique every project and then go with it!”
Of the pieces shown by Photography I students, the two photos created by Rebecca Flores ’16 particularly stand out. Both black and white, the first shows someone holding up a photo of the Smith College Multicultural Affairs website. The next shows Flores’s friend, Yenelsa Duran ’16, one of the co-chairs of Nosotr@s, staring straight at the camera. On the topic of her inspiration for the piece, Flores said,“10.8 percent. This is the percentage of Latina students who attend Smith College. However, we are more than just a number. We represent more than just 10.8 percent of diversity within the Smith College community. We represent the struggle to overcome institutional oppression.”
Flores said, “These photographs are a response to the inauthentic images chosen by Smith College to be put on display. We are more than an image on a webpage promoting ‘diversity’ at Smith College. We are real, and we are individuals. These are genuine photographs exposing what it means to be a Latin@ at Smith and also a student of color … I wanted to show that we are real people and that we belong here.”
The exhibit is a celebration of all the hard work studio art students have put in over the semester. It is also a celebration of the studio art department and the never-ending support of the professors. Meacham said she loves studio art because it “pushes [her] to consider new and different ways to examine subject matter, while the process of making art … has taught me to plan ahead, problem-solve and adapt.”