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See the senior art majors show their stuff April 18

The Senior Art Exhibition will open on April 18, with an open reception from 1 to 3 p.m., and runs through May 3.
The artists, 16 graduating seniors, will be showing pieces of their portfolios that they have worked on for practically their entire college careers. The art featured in the exhibit was handpicked by the artists themselves, to show off small snippets of their portfolios. The pieces include ceramics, paintings, photography, metalwork, and 3-D design.
“It’s pretty much a mix of everything,” Chelsea Erickson, graduating art major, says.
“This exhibit shows only the more recent stuff that we’ve done,” says Meghan Luby, “like in the last two years or so. But really, all of our stuff has been in development for years.”
The artists find many sources of inspiration for the work that they will present. For Manny Cortez, music plays constantly in the art studio while working on a piece.
“It really gets me in the mood, helps me express myself,” Cortez says.
For some, other inspirations include family, movies, nature, and the human form. Michael Harris takes artistic direction from real-world events, like the disaster in Haiti, to create his artwork.
But what really inspired these artists to open their minds to the world of paints and sculptures?
“I don’t want a real job,” laughs Luby.
“I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk,” Cortez says.
The exhibit was designed to do just that: keep young and aspiring artists from a life behind the desk and away at work. In the past, art students have jumpstarted their careers through their senior art exhibit. Julie Bowland, the VSU Gallery Director and the instructor of the Senior Exhibition Seminar, believes that the final art show will help the graduating students make a name for themselves when finding work.
“The exhibition prepares them for the business end of the art world,” Bowland says.
“We have to do the best we can,” says Kelly Cook. “This exhibit is like our big debut in the art world.
“This gallery basically sums up our entire art lives,” says Erickson. “It shows parts of our portfolios to the world, and it’s a make or break moment.”
Not only do the artists have to worry about just making the art, but they also have to stress about installing it in the gallery, providing food, and having enough financial backing to run the show.
“At maximum, there will hopefully be 350 people coming to the reception, so we have to make sure everything is perfect for all of them,” says Cook.
“We have to go over the menu, organize the artwork, and prepare the booklet for the show,” says Cortez.
“We also have to have some sponsors,” Erickson adds. “We managed to get Starbuck and Papa John’s to sponsor us, along with private contributions from friends and family.”
According to Luby, there is also going to be a jazz trio performing at the reception, comprised of faculty and students from the Music department.
“[The reception is] going to be eats and treats,” says Luby.
Simply put, the students are all in charge—along with letting their creativity flow, a major part of this exhibit is to make sure they know how to handle the business world when marketing themselves and their art.
However, the gallery isn’t the only thing the students have to work on. There also were the Senior Presentations in the University Center Theater on April 6 and they will be there again on April 13 at 5 p.m.
“That’s where we have to basically defend our art,” says Alex Sarver. “Some of the faculty will ask for descriptions and what the pieces mean for us.”
“It’s where we show what we’ve learned, how we’ve grown, our style, and our feelings about our work,” says Harris. “It’s going to be where we essentially give our artist statement.”
The process of questions and answers from faculty to students will be a grueling process; teachers in the panel will have basically interrogate and rip the students limb from limb, while the seniors will try to defend the work they poured their heart and soul into.
“It’ll be hardcore,” says Sarver.
As trying and difficult as the panel of teachers may seem, the seniors are proud of their work.
“You could never pick a favorite piece, though,” remarks Harris.
Indeed, the 16 seniors could not agree on a title for about three weeks, let alone their favorite pieces.
“When you’ve got 16 people with so many ideas and opinions, it’s tough to get something like the title taken care of,” says Erickson.
Fortunately, the seniors eventually hit and agreed upon the best title: “When Titles Fail…”
“So on the booklets, the title is going to say ‘WTF,’” says Cook.
The artists also have words of encouragement for their fellow art majors.
“Prepare early,” says Erickson.
“Don’t take a teacher’s criticism too hard; they’re just trying to help you,” adds Sarver.
“Make as much art as you can,” says Cortez.
“Think outside the box!” says Cook.
“I’m really proud of them,” Bowland remarks about her students. “They did a great job with their art; it’s a lot of work, but they’re all looking forward to it.”
For interested students, make sure to stop by the exhibit and presentation on April 13 at 5 p.m. to support the seniors and all their hard work.

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