Erin Horesh

As I began the process of creating a series of work, I found myself more Or less perplexed by my subject matter rather than educated by it. Throughout my high school experience, I have taken every opportunity of independent work and focused it on enriching my knowledge of the philosophy addressing our society’s vast social norms and how we view ourselves. Naturally, this led me to explore notions of materialism, consumer culture, narcissism, and a plethora of other philosophies and theories which influence each other in a negative and cyclical manner when it comes to our socio-political understanding. Being able to explore these notions through visual means over the last two years allowed for the overwhelming complexity of these topics to establish a deeper grasp of the social dynamics which make up our interpersonal relationships, and how they are impacted by corrupted ideas of self that we are inadvertently taught as young people.

Inspired by socio-political artists like Stanley Donwood, Jenny Holzer, and Natalia L.L, I was most interested in exploring materialism and consumer culture and how the two impact self-perception in the context of others. This was primarily articulated through the use of seemingly manufactured motifs (identical clay faces which I had made in a mold), as well as actually manufactured motifs (mass-produced stickers). For instance, the use of the identical clay faces throughout the series is meant to convey an overall sense of the manufactured “personality” that is advertised and longed for in our society. The more materialistic you are-the more invested in class symbols and hallmarks worth- the closer you become to the “perfect being”.This results in the hollowness of personality, creating nothing more than manufactured citizens, paying their way to apparent worthiness. Similarly, the use of manufactured media such as stickers, CDs, and newspaper articles are generally used throughout the series to cultivate the urge for the viewer to question what beauty they strangely find in the materialism of an over-manufactured lifestyle. This being said, the use of body imagery as a whole is meant to leave the viewer feeling somewhat exposed. However they internalize this exposure is entirely up to them, but regardless they are meant to question the nature of our flawed view of perfection and its connection to consumerism This theme draws concise attention to the detriments that our indulgences have placed upon us and show leave the culprits- most all of us- vulnerable to a mess they may or may not feel partly responsible for.

Mamie Kuhla

The main idea of my work was to showcase the wide variety of gender expression and gender performance socially and culturally. I was inspired by the likes of the Golden Age of Hollywood, drag queens, burlesque performers, and traditional gender norms. I also take inspiration from the human body, and more specifically, body modification, painless or painful, to get a desired look that is seen as attractive or feminine. For me, gender roles feel like a performance, trying to act the way your sex is stereotypically portrayed. It fascinates me, especially from a mental and societal lens. I am primarily inspired by photographers, despite the amount of my pieces that are done in either acrylic paint on canvas or India Ink and watercolor on paper. My art reflects a fascination with beauty and femininity, as well as the human form. I take interest in vintage beauty practices, pin up models, women’s fashion, and artists who challenged gender and sexuality in their art. Robert Mapplethorpe is my number one inspiration as an artist in general, and his photographs inspired me to make my own art.

Madison McClelland

When I decided to focus on light in my work, I had no idea how I was going to explore this at first. The topic I decided to focus on was broad, both a positive thing, because it meant that I was able to explore it more freely, but also challenging, because it was difficult to focus on certain aspects while maintaining a relatively common theme that made sense. I decided to focus on how light can be visually conveyed using various colors, and how light can be used to convey emotion in a work, and decided to use several different mediums including more traditional media such as pastels, and paints, and even sculpture, as well as more contemporary approaches, such as digital drawing and incorporating literal light into my projects. I researched how artists conveyed light in their art by looking at works from different countries and time periods to grasp a better understanding of the distinct techniques used in their works, so that I could consider certain aspects for implementation into my works. I focused on how light was used in 19 th century France, and how Claude Monet was able to create depth by using contrasting colors. What I took away from his works specifically was the fact that he never used black in his works, and that he was able to create shadows despite this, causing the work to appear more vibrant. I took inspiration from his works, by using a wide variety of bright colors, while avoiding any flat blacks or whites, which I then incorporated into many of my works. When viewing my work, it is apparent that great focus is placed on the colors used, so instead of using light to illuminate a specific subject, I focused more on what my idea of light was, and used the color theory to present a more abstract depiction of light, such as my Sunset and my Sun stages pieces. I chose to do this, as I wanted the viewer to focus on color and light in the works, instead of them seeing a specific subject.

Another artist that I took inspiration from is Odilon Redon, who was known for also using bright, vivid colors in his works. His works usually consisted of a subject, which was usually a person, illuminated by using contrasting colors to draw the eye to the subject. My digital works are heavily inspired by his works, both color-wise, by using contrasting colors, and the fact that the works are illuminated in accordance with the emotion of the subject. When I focused more on the connection between emotion and light, I decided to include subjects because I felt that they played an appropriate role in how the work is perceived. The subject acts as the focus, and the tone of the light helps to illuminate their expression.

When creating my works, I also took inspiration from a 20 th -century American installation artist named James Turrell, who focuses more on the physical aspect of light, and how it can be explored in more of a sensory form. His works interest me, because they have no fixed image or focus, they are simply created to be experienced. One work that I think achieves a similar feeling is my piece, Sunset. There is no representative subject, simply colors interacting with each other. Color is made to simply be experienced.

When creating my works, I focused on how I could interpret light in a variety of different ways. The mediums that I chose weren’t always the most obvious mediums to convey light, but I think that I was able to continue the theme of light in a diversity of ways while still focusing on the intentions and inspiration. Having my work in an exhibition is interesting to me, because I am able to see how each of my works interact with each other. What’s interesting, is that my work will be shown digitally now due to Covid-19, which means that my digital work will be able to be seen as it had originally looked like as a non-printed piece. I enjoyed experimenting with many different mediums and am looking forward to how others view my work.

Cayleigh Nicholson

My body of work focused in the beginning on the works of Barbara Kruger, Shepard Fairey and Shirin Neshat. These artists inspired me in their color schemes, but also in their subject matter. Each of them focused on a type of protest art, and Kruger especially on women within advertisements. This is where my interest piqued, and the bulk of my artwork was inspired by. I wanted to explore the history of women in advertisement and the specific graphics
that came along with it. This included font, posture, color scheme, and composition.

I considered the text phrase that is seen throughout my work when trying to think of a slogan that would encapsulate the simultaneous entrapment and undermining of women through the visual art of advertisement. I wanted to not only make the visual connection between the past and the present of the degradation of women in ads, but I wanted to make a statement that revealed the static nature of the problem. I see “Skip Ad” as representing both women in ads and women receiving advertisements since “Skip Ad” is a phrase seen on most digital video ads. This is the specific context of my art: what an empty promise this skipping is. These companies have already exposed us to the ad for however many seconds were necessary, and the illusion of “skipping the ad” is never truly accomplished, especially in the case of women. Even though great strides have been made for female representation in mainstream media, it can still function often as an empty promise, with many expectations and exploitations by advertising companies still directly affecting women.

This undertone is present in almost all of my works. In the Lungs SkipAd and SkipAd figure pieces I used an “x” stitch to suggest traditional female roles. For the viewer this could give a sense of entrapment again and mirror the traditional views these ads tend to push onto women. Of course, I want the viewer to experience the art without knowledge of the background, to see their reaction or how much the visual portions can express this theme first.

In all my works I want there to be a sense of unsettlement. I used the phrase “Skip Ad” because it was so familiar, yet vague. It forces the viewer to think of their interaction with advertisement and thus compare it to the subject of the work. Especially in my stop motion, though more symbolic, the aim was for a growing sense of unsettlement to mirror the feeling of entrapment in which women find themselves through representation in ads.

Due to COVID-19 we were unable to hold an exhibition. So unfortunately, I can only describe the arrangement of my work hypothetically. In all I would like to have the placement of each piece build outward from my film, as it is inherently the most eye-grabbing due to its movement. I would want the viewer to experience it first since it only mentions “Skip Ad” in the title, and then to see the evolution of “Skip Ad” as I created it and as it became more obvious of what it was representing. Of course, the viewer has the right to skip any piece and go in any
order but the build of slow realization as to what the pieces mean, or the growing feeling of discomfort or entrapment, could be achieved nonetheless.

Sydney Orr

The body of work I intended to create was inspired by my appreciation for the ocean, considering I live right next to it, and my vision for my exhibition pieces changed as my understanding of the ocean evolved. In the earlier stages of my work, I focused on the ocean in a more personal but somewhat superficial sense, including more of my vision of what the ocean should be or how I have experienced it. For example, a sunset over the water, and a thriving coral reef. As I researched the state of the ocean, I had realizations about what the ocean is actually like today. Although the ocean is still beautiful like I have seen, pollution has taken some aspects of that beauty away, and I decided it was important to depict those images too. For example, the giant garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean, pollution’s effect on fish, and the decay of coral in reefs all greatly affected the direction of my work.

My closeness to the ocean is also what influenced me to choose the materials and media that I chose. Paint and chalk pastels are both elegant materials that produce fluid and colorful images. I feel that both of these materials helped me to create my own personal, colorful vision of the ocean. However, the cyanotype printing process, really allowed me to explore a media where water itself was an essential part of the creative process. The resulting images are more realistic and suggestive to figures actually in water. Cyanotype allowed me to see the ocean in a new way, and helped me find a new appreciation for the imperfections of the ocean as it is today.

I am hoping that the viewer can see these two different approaches to representing the ocean in art, and how important it is to see and understand both. It is important to see the ocean as beautiful, but it is also important to see what pollution is doing to it so that people can strive to maintain that beauty. I also hope the viewer can connect what they see in the work to their own personal experience with the ocean, and then maybe have an active response to wanting to keep the ocean healthy. Overall, I am very passionate about the subject around my pieces, and hope that the viewer can enjoy them in their own way.