Senior art majors display work in final exhibit: “Real Eyes – Real ize – Real Lies”
by Christina Spencer
The gallery in the Lied Center for the Visual Arts is filled with a variety of art from photography to sculpture to screen printing to digital art, all handiwork of the graduating class of art majors. The senior art exhibit is now on display in the Bryan Oliver Gallery.
Senior Josh de Groot came up with the theme for this year’s exhibit, “Real Eyes – Real ize – Real Lies.” He said it was a phrase he and his friends used to say in high school.
“We chose this title for the show with the idea of ‘the artist’s perspective,’” de Groot said. “As artists we see things differently than most people.”
Senior Matthew Eaton, a 3D and sculpture artist, said the theme is also interesting in that the three phrases can be put together into one statement saying, “With your real eyes you can realize the real lies.”
Eaton’s senior piece is a 1973 Kawasaki G3 motorcycle that he refurbished to run on both gasoline and an electrolysis hydrogen generator, a type of generator that separates hydrogen from oxygen in water to create hydrogen gas.
Installing an engine into a bike may seem daunting to some, but Eaton said it’s actually quite simple. In fact, he taught himself by downloading the plans online. Eaton described his motorcycle as a circuit.
“All you need is an electrical coil that is put in distilled water and baking soda and a current will run through it,” Eaton said. “That’s electrolysis.”
Originally from San Diego, Eaton said his homesickness for the ocean was a motivation in dreaming up the idea of a hydrogen-focused society. The name of his bike is SeaCiety, a pun on the idea of a society based around the water.
Along with a love of water, Eaton has a passion for youth ministry. His dream is to become a youth pastor and have his own garage to restore motorcycles, as well as continue sculpting.
Eaton said he got the idea for a motorcycle shop while driving one day to skateboard with some students from Young Life ministry. He began thinking about how easy it is for adolescents in the skate and bike subculture to get caught up in negative influences, and wondered if he’d be able to teach youth how to fix bikes.
Eaton aspires to make a difference in society through his handiwork. Senior Janelle LeMieux also said she dreams of impacting her community, but through graphic design.
“You can do so much with it and get the word out through your design,” LeMieux said.
Her piece in the show is a collection of caricature figures of all the senior art majors surrounded by colorful, geometric cardboard shapes.
LeMieux said she decided to do this project, titled “The Best Ship We’ve Got,” because she wanted to honor the classmates she has been with for the last four years. In a photography class last semester, she took pictures of each senior art major. It wasn’t until about a month before the senior exhibit opening that she began using the photos to create caricatures.
Each figure took around three to four hours to complete. LeMieux said she drew the basic shape of the person in Adobe Illustrator and then put them in Photoshop to add more detail. Surprisingly, the hardest part of the whole thing was cutting out the foam mat board that went around the figures since it was so tedious, she said.
Senior Susan Vander Kooi’s passion is photography. Last year, she studied abroad in the British Isles and said she carried her camera everywhere to document the trip. Two of the photographs from her trip were chosen to be in the senior show.
The first is a photo, titled “To Find Rest”, of her friend Janae Brown. Vander Kooi said Brown wasn’t posing in the photo and that in general she likes to keep her photography natural to document the real environment she encounters. Her photography almost has a photojournalistic feel, she said.
In fact, Vander Kooi said that setting is important when taking photos; it has to be a place that has atmosphere.
Her other photo in the show, “Dublin’s Gallery”, is an example of her attention to captivating atmospheres. It is of an outdoor art gallery on a Dublin street at sunset. Because dusk was falling, Vander Kooi said it was a little tricky to shoot in such low light, but getting the right light is important.
“The light usually inspires me to take pictures when it hits that perfect point,” Vander Kooi said.
She also said that she prefers to capture people in her pieces.
“I like having human elements in my photographs; I think it brings more meaning and life to them,” Vander Kooi said.
Senior Lauren Hammerstrom also incorporated the human element into her pieces, but with a focus on the fragility of life.
Two of her paintings — both on wood — in the show represent the tragedy of the forest fires in Colorado Springs last summer. The smaller one depicts two skeletons and a tree, representing the idea that one’s physical body may be destroyed, but your spiritual body hopes for a new, recreated life, she said.
“They represent the thoughts about what happens when fire affects both natural organisms as well as human structures,” Hammerstrom said. “There’s a lot of layers behind it all, as well as some spiritual elements.”
The senior art exhibit is open until the closing reception May 18.
Contact Christina Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org