by Kelli Hennessey
For seniors, graduation means looking forward to the future and reflecting on the past. For art majors, that process culminates in the Senior Art Show, an opportunity for Whitworth’s graduating art students to showcase the skills and point of view they have developed during their time in the program. The 2015 graduating class of Whitworth’s art program is comprised of nine students: Jessica Banzet, Katie Bergmann, Linnea Goold, Melissa Helgeson, Kelsey Herman, Jasmine Pallwitz, Jorie Rehnberg, Ashton Skinner and Tayler Wood.
The artists explore a variety of media in the gallery show. Photographs, paintings, graphic designs, charcoal drawings and sculptural installations by each senior artist can be seen.
The current senior class contains students who began in other majors—sociology, psychology, Spanish and communication, to name a few—that have found that art encompasses a wide variety of ideas and disciplines. The students interviewed all discussed the ways in which their art educations have challenged and inspired them.
Skinner paints self-portraiture that explores reflection and identity.
“I expected to learn technique, the craft, the more face-value skills of making paintings and making drawings, but I’ve had a few teachers and mentors here that have taught me how to think differently and taught me how to go on rabbit trails when you are interested in something and explore it, and that’s been super exciting because I’ve really learned how to follow my curiosity … and we have learned critical and analytical skills here that I wouldn’t have learned in any other major here,” Skinner said.
Other art students agree that Whitworth offers a unique perspective in the field.
“Whitworth emphasizes worldview and I feel like … the art department is the best place I could have been to really widen that [idea] or challenge me,” Herman said.
Herman’s experimental 3D yarn sculpture is meant to challenge viewers’ perceptions of the way common materials are viewed.
Apart from the traditional art classes expected in this program, some students have also had the opportunity to take their education into the real world with community-based programs. This semester, Jasmine Pallwitz worked at Salem Lutheran Church in an internship that allowed her to use her love of art to help serve the Spokane community.
Pallwitz is a painter, focusing on works that work to bring attention to the world through reflecting cultural inequalities.
“For me, I’m a very faith-based person, and so that is very important to me as well as my art, so I’m always thinking about ways to integrate the two,” Pallwitz said. “It’s actually made me more passionate in my desire to help people, to serve in whatever way I can … [art] can be used a lot in community development and as a way to spread a message of change.”
After graduation, Whitworth’s art students have varied plans that include graduate study, volunteer work and community building. Herman’s, Skinner’s and Pallwitz’s work can be seen at the show, now open in the Bryan Oliver Gallery at the Lied Art Center.