Capstone students display ‘very vulnerable’ art

Art+capstone+projects+have+been+displayed+in+the+Grossman+Gallery+since+Nov.+18.+

Photo by Jen-Feng Liu for The Lafayette

Art capstone projects have been displayed in the Grossman Gallery since Nov. 18.

From tunnels made of clothing to oil paintings depicting Taoism and childhood memories, students in visiting assistant professor of art Sun You‘s capstone recently showcased their most meaningful, creative and personal art in the Grossman Gallery in the Williams Visual Arts Building. A selection of pieces created by April Miller ‘23, Andrea Collazo-Salazar ‘23, Renee Mercereau ‘23, Isabel Sorrells ‘23 and Jennifer Zhu ‘23 were on display for students and faculty to view. 

The seniors, all art majors with a concentration in studio art, selected some of their work to be put on display at the exhibit. The pieces were embedded with personal meanings and messages.

“It’s a very vulnerable situation, meaning that not only they have to create this, but they also have to [show] boldness, given the presence and the idea of like, you’re being viewed and judged,” You said.

Zhu created a set of oil paintings depicting the flow of water. This was her first time using oil paints and she found that the medium helped her visually translate the meaning behind her artwork. 

“Mixing color can represent water flows because you can see the different curves can create a sense of water,” Zhu said.

Zhu chose a monochrome color palette to represent Taoism, which also translates into the way she depicted water.

“I just want to choose gray, black and white, not only to create the sense of harmony and to put them together as a kind of standard but always to point out the idea of Taoism,” Zhu said.

Collazo-Salazar created a visual presentation. To see the video she created, people visiting the exhibition had to crawl under a tunnel made of a collection of clothes Collazo-Salazar has collected over a few years. 

“The act of kneeling down and crawling and watching this in a very sort of claustrophobic space and then coming out, it references her idea,” You said.

The nine-minute video depicts Collazo-Salazar slowly eating a model of a penis made out of white chocolate. An abstract photograph of Collazo-Salazar’s skin, period blood and hair is also on display.

“It’s very abstract for the topic of sexuality and the perception of what’s considered shameful or proud,” You said. “Once you see that video … suddenly the whole gallery’s becoming a surrogate body.”

Mercerau created two oil paintings inspired by her younger memories of her family. Using images of places and objects from her childhood, Mercerau created two abstract pieces for the exhibit.

“Everyone kind of has a place that I feel is special to them and their family, so maybe [students] can get a sense of that same feeling from my paintings,” Mercerau said.

In the process of making her paintings, You inspired Mercereau to look at the photos that inspired her artistic technique in a new way.

“It was interesting to paint where the folds and the shadows were in the images, and almost look at them in a structural way, rather than just on a flat surface. I feel like that kind of helped me grow in the way I was looking at them,” Mercereau said.

You hopes that students who visited the exhibit took away an appreciation for creative mediums and the art program at Lafayette. She also hopes her students hone their creative potential and become the best artists they can be.

“I want the students to be proud that we have a system and a gallery that not only celebrates and shows the professional artists but also showcases student work,” You said. “I hope this becomes an opportunity or gateway for my students to really consider being a creative person.”