With the semester’s end in sight, the art and design department is celebrating the work of its seniors with an exhibit emphasizing works in their focus from their journey as Murray State students.
The exhibition, titled “Unprecedented,” features students’ best works over the course of their college careers, works of diverse mediums and topics.
The installation was student-led with the help of Timothy Michael Martin, associate professor of art and design and director of university galleries.
“I assisted the students with planning the exhibition, worked with them on the layout and mentored the process as they determined which works they were going to exhibit to spotlight their studio art accomplishments,” Martin said.
Beyond showcasing their accomplishments, the exhibit offers an experience for students going through the process of setting up and selecting pieces for an exhibition.
Setting up the exhibition did include coming up with a name and the students wanted to find something that didn’t limit the mediums on display.
“The students decided that they wanted a title that wasn’t limited to or specific to only one of their working styles and selected a title that reflected the current situation of the group,” Martin said. “Emma Mitchell suggested ‘Unprecedented’ because the word describes both the global COVID-19 pandemic and relates to the students graduating from Murray State and taking their next steps as artists into unknown territory.”
Mitchell is an art and design senior with an emphasis on ceramics. Her pieces on display use ceramics to make comments on the human body and how beauty and flaws are perceived.
“I make ceramic sculptures dealing with self acceptance,” Mitchell said. “The sculptures have flaws and bad spots as well as visually pleasing places.”
Mitchell has worked with clay since her sophomore year and enjoys the medium because of its relativity to the human body and its naturalness.
This isn’t Mitchell’s first time being exhibited in a Murray State gallery, but she values the experience it is giving her and her fellow artists.
“This is an awesome opportunity to learn about how art in the real world works gallery-wise,” Mitchell said. “This is also a great way to show off the seniors and all we’ve learned during our years at Murray State.”
Fellow art and design senior on display, Tia Whitaker is appreciative of the experience the exhibit is giving her, but she also sees it as a celebration.
“The exhibit is a celebration of the four or five years that we have spent here as students at Murray State,” Whitaker said.
With an emphasis in printmaking, Whitaker has a series of lithographs that make a statement inspired by Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit.”
“Being a person of color I enjoy making work about my community and our history,” Whitaker said. “I remember listening to the song ‘Strange Fruit’ and I decided to give a visual representation of the song.”
From a distance Whitaker’s pieces look typical, one being a bowl of fruit, another being a tree and another being a sunny day by the lake. When given an up-close look, Black bodies can be seen as a way to make a statement on lynchings like the song does.
“One common thing in all of my pieces is that when you’re far back it looks different, but when you get close you notice the gruesome details,” Whitaker said. “I wanted this to reflect my feelings on how a lot of things in Black history have been pushed to the side, and a lot of us haven’t learned about these gruesome things.”
Whitaker’s pieces share how certain Black history, like lynchings, isn’t taught, but also how acts such as lynchings were so normalized in the south.
With a diverse amount of statements and mediums used, Martin is proud of what the students accomplished.
“Their works in the group exhibit really accentuates both the quality and variety of the works created within the department,” Martin said. “The students did an excellent job completing the design and layout of the exhibition as a group.”
The exhibit will be on display on the sixth and seventh floor galleries in the Fine Arts Building until Nov. 12.