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Spring Edition
Volume 99, Number 4

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Producing a pure vision:

Distilling our voices and vocation through the 2008 Senior Art Exhibit

Mackenzie Martin, From the Window

This is my piece, "From the Window," on opening night.  I loved the strange feeling of watching people interact with it.

Completing the last few brush strokes

 “Mackenzie, we need music!”  My roommate Katie whips out her iPod and tiny speakers and puts on some John Mayer. We listened to John Mayer on all the trains in Italy and when we worked in the studio on our wood block prints, so it seems absolutely fitting that we listen to “Gravity” while we install our senior shows. She and Megan are painting the podiums Katie will use to install her lamps, and then they move on to painting Megan’s wall. I’m working on measuring and tying yards and yards of the fishing line that will hold up my pieces of Plexiglas and hopefully hold them in an ethereal tree-trunk shape. Almost every art major is here tonight, two days before the show opens, painting walls, measuring, nailing, arranging their work, and adjusting the lighting to enliven the gallery’s contents. 

We’ve never worked so hard in our life. But we’ve also never welcomed hundreds of people to view our work before, opened it to our families, or given public speeches about it. Art majors love the pursuit of perfection, and as we’re taking our first steps into the professional life of an artist — finishing and installing our senior shows — we’re not settling for anything less. At least not until the show actually opens and we are out of time.

The night before the show opens, there are those of us who resolve not to sleep until we’ve got it right, arranged it to the last degree of perfection. One artist brings her palette and paints to Climenhaga, where her pieces are already installed, and touches up a few areas while they’re hanging on the wall. One artist re-cuts mats because she saw a slightly crooked edge. One artist decides that her series of drawings isn’t complete, so she spends the afternoon and evening creating an entirely new image to include.   

We’re no strangers to late nights in the studio, or to working closely with one another and lending a hand. But senior show leads to a whole new level of bonding and supporting one another in the face of stress. We help each other with lights (most of us are just too short to adjust them without a large ladder), with painting, figuring out measurements, take each other to stores to buy last-minute supplies, and bring one another food from the Union to sustain our energy.  In years past, senior art majors have created several different shows. Seven or so art majors would put up their work in the gallery for a week, then have to take it down to make room for the next group. I’m so glad that we’re all here together, all at once, making this beautiful exhibit happen. 

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