A Collaborative Post: Student Art Show + Art Thesis Open House

This post includes the writing and photographs of two authors: Juliet Magoon & Elena Sippel.

This year’s Student Art Show was extremely diverse. The show featured a wide array of mediums as well as plenty of thought stimulating subject matter. Walking through the show during the opening reception on November 5th, I noticed the gleam in attendees eyes’ as they scanned the room. Each piece was so different from the next, evoking a sort of magical sensory overload.

Elena and I were lucky enough to have a few of our pieces in the show, which we wanted to share with you all. Check out our pieces below.

Juliet Magoon, Hannah Swimming, 2015, Color Photographs

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Elena Sippel, Light Rays, 2015, Silver Gelatin Caffenol Print

Drawing student Jewel Biggs‘ work was pretty ground breaking as she used nothing but cosmetic makeup to create her piece, Subtle Power. At first glance it appears that she could have used colored pencil, but as I looked closer, I noticed a shine effect in the fantasy character’s jet black hair. It slowly starts to make more sense that she used makeup as the piece is inspected closely. See Subtle Power and Biggs’ other pieces below.

I talked to Biggs during the show and she mentioned that the idea came to her when she was working on a project for a class and she ran out of her conventional art supplies. She bravely decided to use makeup such as eyeliner, eyeshadow and others. What a great use of old makeup laying around the house.

Sculpture student, Will Staples‘ works were also standout pieces at the show. I was immediately drawn to his piece, Quality Head. It’s kind of a goofy interpretation of a large-scale head made of wood, complete with a flat brimmed baseball cap. I was drawn to Quality Head’s bright mustard-yellow hue as well as the toothy expression. The piece is filled with energy and stood out alongside the remaining assortment of sculptures. See Quality Head below.

As the Art Show came to a slow and steady close, attendees of the show trickled into the Hildebrandt House for the Art Thesis Open House. The feeling became a little more festive as folks leisurely toured each student’s thesis studio. Different genres of music could be heard throughout Hildebrandt adding a little pep to visitors’ step.

Here’s what Elena had to say:

Juliet and I saw two different sides of the Art Thesis Open House.  Juliet was on the inside—running a wacky and spectacular photobooth—while I simply toured for my own pleasure and enjoyment.

Upon entering the building, I was immediately greeted with sounds from Molly Freilich’s studio.  With her were art thesis alums, laughing, joking and—throwing clay!  It was a hoot in there; Molly’s current thesis work was laid out on a shelf by the door and there were two wheels where visitors were throwing pots.  The whole floor was covered in newspaper as if to say: where there is clay there is mud—you will get messy!   Her room was a popular one; there was always someone enjoying her work—which if you haven’t seen yet get ready for a good laugh—and there was also a continuous stream of people coming in and out unable to touch anything because of their clay caked hands.

Upstairs, while Sydney MacDonald was live painting, Eli Tuchler was keeping it funky.  Their rooms differed so much from each other as Sydney worked with brightly colored paints quietly and Eli displayed his black and white photographic prints against a background of funk music.  It was great to not only  check out both of their processes, but it was a dance party, too!

Downstairs in the basement, sculptor Ben Stinson was greeting people and showing off some of his pieces. In his sculptures Ben has been known to take inspiration from his childhood as well as his personal journey, dealing with struggle along the way. His pieces contrasted with the rest of the group as they are darker in tone and incorporate the use of chains, wood and metal. Super hardcore yet playful at the same time.

I had the special opportunity to photograph for sculptor Natalia Petkov as she performed a thirty minute piece.  Amidst her wonderful art work—which features an array of plaster and wax sculptures, as well as sculptures made of grass that is cut from Guilford’s own lawn’s–Natalia, in a big dark dress, laid on top of a glass framed door.  All throughout the show, Natalia poured water from a crystal pitcher into her eyes.  The performance, as does her thesis work, deals with post-generational trauma in relation to the Holocost.

No one in her studio could look away.  While trying to capture the piece for all that it was, I was dancing around the scene with my camera.  It was a powerful experience—I got to know Natalia in ways I never otherwise would have. In talking with her afterwards, she said, “hearing your camera helped me know that I was not alone.” That said, Natalia’s piece became kind of collaboration between Natalia, myself and the audience.  I left that night with the feeling that I had not only witnessed, but was also a part of something that words cannot express—it was art.

Photographer, Juliet Magoon had an absolute ball.  Although I did not get a picture taken at her dress-up photobooth, I photographed what was happening in her studio.  There were cupcakes and costumes and happy people.   There were a series of group shoots and individual portraits.  She was playing some throwback Blondie tunes. All the meanwhile everyone wandered around in a costume—everything from a bunny to sailor moon to the best drag outfit you could possibly dig up.  The party was rockin’ until late into the night.

Check out some of the shots Juliet took during her photo booth session:

All and all, I left with a feeling of elation—not only was I inspired by the work that I had seen, but I was dreaming of what I was going see and create next.  In our tiny little department, our artists are creating worlds.  It’s explorative, innovative and still accessible for us all to experience.  Just take a step inside their studio, and you’ll see what they’re all about.

A note from the authors:

We know this is a longer post than usual, but this evening was filled with so much excitement that we felt had to be shared. It’s nights like this that really make the Guilford Art Department shine. There was a special sense of comradery during both events, reminding us of the creative and constantly evolving community that we are here at Guilford.

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