Students prepare for senior art show

By Zach Palermo
Staff Writer

Illustration by Ebbie Davis
Megan Thompson, senior art major, wires together clay pieces Oct. 27 for her senior show.
Select art students host senior shows every year on campus, but most Union students aren’t aware that the projects don’t just involve the creative process.

Students chosen to have senior shows on campus must write papers, create narratives and give presentations to art professors.

“There’s a lot of research [involved in senior shows],” Thompson said.

Professors also write at least two critiques on the students’ pieces before they can put up their shows.

Megan Thompson, Sara White and Kayla Ellingsworth were selected this year.

White will host a show Nov. 6-12; Ellingsworth’s show will be Nov. 27 through Dec. 3; and Thompson’s show will be Dec. 5-9.

Steve Halla, assistant professor of art, said he enjoys watching students prepare senior shows.
“[The senior show] gives the student a chance to make a body of work they can show,” he said, noting that Union’s policy of giving individual students the opportunity to host full shows is unusual at universities.

Most allow a few select pieces to be shown as part of a larger gallery, Halla said.

“The student literally has to go through the entire show,” Halla said. “They’ve had to think through the entire process.”

The process of creating a senior show takes nearly all semester and often involves reevaluation and sometimes changing the focus entirely, Halla said.

Thompson’s focus is ceramics, which makes up a large part of the materials that her show will use.

“I’m doing an installation piece,” she said. “Rather than having a bunch of single pieces in the gallery, I’m going to have one piece that will take up the entire space.”

Thompson will use clay, video and sound.

Her original idea was centered on exploring faith, fear, secrecy and hidden things. However, her professors rejected the idea and told her to focus on one emotion.

Heeding their advice, Thompson focused her show on “what [fear] looks like in my life and what fear prevents me from doing.”

Senior art major Sarah White took a different approach with a topic that hits close to home.

“It’s about a virus I have in my cornea,” she said.

The virus, herpes simplex keratitis, causes partial blindness.

White’s show involves putting together Plexiglas and acrylic paint in a vaguely corneal/eye shape and then letting it sit for a time.

“I decided to do abstract interpretations of what a cornea looks like,” White said.

White did not originally intend to leave her piece sitting for long to dry but did so because she took some time off. When she came back, the piece had changed significantly.

“I was really intrigued by that,” she said.

White soon incorporated the extra time into her creative process, finding it an interesting way to express another element of the show’s focus: her eye.

“I loved the idea that they changed over time because my eye changes over time,” she said.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.