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Spring Edition Volume 99, Number 4

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Producing a pure vision (continued)

Determining the pith, kernel, root, and marrow of our vocation

Inside Aughinbaugh gallery
Inside the gallery itself, visitors could examine the work of art majors like Emily Heidel, Kristin Seda, and Erin McManness, whose work is pictured here. 

I’m sure every senior art major has their own funny stories about comments they’ve received about their work.  My two favorite comments are the bluntly honest kind.  At the show, an acquaintance of mine said, “Wow. . . That’s actually impressive.  I didn’t expect it from Mackenzie.”  And as I documented my work a few days after the show opened, a theatre major stopped by to tell me that, although she doesn’t like art in general and she really doesn’t like it that the placement of my work disrupts the traffic flow of the lower lobby, she liked my piece anyway.  

I’m trying to keep those honest, blunt, strangely positive comments in mind weeks later, as I struggle to put together my portfolio and resume. Despite peoples’ preconceptions, my work still packs a punch. That thought makes it easier to take photographs of the work and go into the world to try and get a job.  One art major I know already has a job interview in Philadelphia for a graphic design position.  My roommate Katie made a list of the top places in the country she’d like to live and is investigating some of them over the summer.  We’re faced with a whole new set of potential successes and failures.  Luckily, generations of artists before us have faced the same worries and opportunities and lived to pass on their wisdom.  “You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures,” Madeleine L’Engle quotes Chekhov in Walking on Water, a memoir about writing and the life of faith.  “It’s your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly, to be prepared for mistakes, which are inevitable, and for failures.”

A few days after senior show opened, I went to have an exit interview with Daniel Finch, one of the professors who guided us through this process.  I brought him the questions on my mind:  What happens when there are no more professors to urge us towards perfection?  How do we get other galleries to take our work?  What do we make next? 

“Try to distill out the essence of what you did in this show,” he tells me.  If we can figure that out, we can take it on to the next project, the next series, the next exhibition.  Maybe we can even use it, in a few years, to convince grad schools to accept us into their prestigious programs.  It’s the next challenge we all face: continuing what we started in senior show, figuring out our unique voices and working quietly on our own, taking small steps toward our career aspirations.


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