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Senior Shows highlight cumulative artistic experience

The second Senior Art Show opens this weekend. For the 18 students exhibiting, the show will highlight four years of advancement and self-discovery in the arts. The exhibit follows on the heels of 18 other students’ first senior show, which included disciplines like photography, woodcarving, animation and ceramics, among many others.

“We are often surprised at the technical leaps made by students in this work and are even more often impressed with the ability of students to draw upon their broad liberal arts background to create a body of work with strong conceptual underpinnings,” Professor of Art Mary Griep said.

The senior shows are a part of a capstone course for studio art majors consisting of advanced studio work, a visiting artist series, weekly critiques and discussions with faculty and peers. Class sessions also cover such topics as preparing a resume, documenting one’s work and framing and producing exhibition announcements and posters.

Finally, each student’s studio work is shown in one of two senior exhibitions in the Flaten Art Museum during late spring. The art students are responsible for developing a concept, creating a body of work and preparing it for installation. A smaller sampling of their body of work is exhibited in the senior show at the end of the academic year.

“Because students do not specify a specific medium, there is a huge variety of what students end up focusing on,” Aubrey Tyler ’14 said. “The senior show is a pretty good representation of the diversity of St. Olaf’s art program. There are many pieces that might not fit into one category or medium but that combine experiences from many different classes.”

“It’s a very self-guided synthesis,” Annelise Brandel-Tanis ’14 said. “You have to be able to take ownership of it in front of whoever might come into the gallery, so in that way I think it functions very well as a capstone project.”

Tyler and Brandel-Tanis, both double majors in studio art and environmental studies, created bodies of work that blend many of the areas they’ve worked in over the years. Tyler’s work for the second show integrates pottery and ceramics with gardening and natural materials, and Brandel-Tanis, who exhibited during the first show, created a multi-layered exhibit of both 3D and 2D works focused on human ecology.

“There are a lot of full days and weekends spent in Dittmann. A lot of us were here for spring break too,” Tyler said. “Behind the scenes, there’s a lot of planning. I had to take three trips to IKEA to get the shelves [for my exhibit]. It’s easy to forget that when you’re looking at a show. This is months of planning coming together.”

Despite the hard work, however, the final exhibits are about more than just completed products.

“While the art major is focused on making things, or at least on how students present their ideas materially, having something that students and faculty can come together and talk about is always the most important part,” Brandel-Tanis said.

The second Senior Art Show will open on Sunday in Dittmann Center, with an opening reception from 2-4 p.m. The reception will include statements from the exhibiting senior art students as well as refreshments. The show will stay open until May 6.

The final Flaten exhibit for the school year will be the All-Senior show, which will open on May 12 and close on May 25, with a closing reception on May 25 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. before commencement.

The Flaten Art Museum is open Monday-Wednesday and Fridays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m, and from 2 – 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.