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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Student art show winners reflect on their processes

“Are you gonna catch me if I fall?” yelled photography instructor Maia Dery from the top of a ladder, as she feverishly made last-minute adjustments to the lighting before the annual student art show.A variety of selected paintings, prints, photographs, and sculptures colored the walls and the nooks of upstairs Founders Nov. 12 for the opening reception.

“There were many diverse mediums this year,” said senior Jonathan Richter, who attended the art opening. “Ever medium is very different, so it was hard to compare the different pieces and vote”

Ceramics instructor Charlie Tefft passed out fortune-cookie-sized strips of paper, so that all attending could vote for the “People’s Choice Award.”

The jury of art faculty gave out first-place prizes for first-place winners and an “Honorable Mention” to the runners-up in each category. The winners each had stories of inspiration and process that led them to creating.

Senior and painting major Kathleen Kennedy won “People’s Choice Award” and first place in the painting category for her “Self-portrait of an Avocado” this year.

Kennedy’s love for avocados, which was instilled in her by her father growing up, inspired the piece.After the show, Dery insisted that Kennedy share the story of her moment of desperate inspiration.

“I was exhausted one night towards the end of the semester, and I wanted a fresh, young avocado,” recalled Kennedy. “As I cut it open, a piece gently flopped down onto the counter and that’s when I realized, ‘This is me. Oh my God, this is me.'”

Similarly, ceramics major and junior Molly Spadone recalled her sleepless fit of inspiration over the creation of her nearly three-foot pot that won first place.

“After seeing Daniel Johnston, I spent about two days thinking … and not sleeping,” said Spadone. “Seeing him inspired me to do what I have always wanted to do.”

Sleep-deprived and inspired, Spadone began an impromptu method of coiling and throwing -a method that her instructor, Tefft, curiously experimented with for himself the next day.

“I was so consumed in that pot. I had no control over it, no idea how it’d turn out, or what it’d look like,” recalled Spadone, as she gazed at “Jar #1″in its permanent, fired state.

Spadone said that seeing her pot on display only made her want to make more pots.She started one last week twice the size of her pot in the show.

“I got half way through and it started to wobble. I had spent about 12 hours on it and then I realized what I had to do -I had to destroy it,” said Spadone. “And that’s the beauty of clay. It can always been brought back to its simplest form.”

For Spadone, the process of making ceramics is a crucial aspect of her art.

“It’s a meditative and spiritual process. It’s really good for me,” said Spadone.

As Spadone reflected on clay as her medium, sophomore, sculpture major Eric Armbrust spoke about entirely different materials.

“Originally I wanted a skull for the piece,” said Armbrust, reflecting on his the sculpture that won first place in its category. “So I called my friend Carly and asked her if she had a skull, and she said, ‘No, but I have a seagull – head, eyes, skin, and everything,’ and I told her, ‘Maybe for the next sculpture.'”

Armbrust used the seagull for another piece that was accepted in the show; however, it was his steel sculpture “Defeat” that won him the award.

“It was really intense working with something so powerful and volatile,” said Armbrust. “It was physically and mentally exhausting, but the whole process taught me a lot about my limits working with material, and it taught me about where I can go. Working through material helped me find a foothold for my next step.”

Learning through the process is important for artists, and for Armbrust, the unique environment and community in the art program also provides a wealth of inspiration and support.

“It’s inspiring to see how others actualize their ideas in a unique and different way than I do,” said Armbrust. “I get the most out of art when it’s approached through a community of individuals.”

Senior art major Demian Crownfield, who won first place in both the drawing and print-making categories, makes her art to help her remember intense emotions and dreams.

“A lot of time if I don’t make a piece of art, I will forget about the image or idea. And I don’t want them to get lost – I want to learn from them,” said Crownfield.

Similar to Spadone and Armbrust, Crownfield enjoys the hands-on aspect of her art; however, she prefers the process of drawing ideas to convey meaning.

“When you write down a dream or idea, you define it in terms of written and visual language, which takes away emotion and meaning,” said Crownfield. “There are no words to describe specific parts of dreams.”

Senior photography major, Clare Gillen, who won first place in the photography category, seeks odd subjects and creates scenes to push her conceptual art.

Gillen described her process as an exercise in getting comfortable with what makes her uncomfortable by challenging normalcy and traditional constructs.

“Memory is really subjective and biased. It’s not recalled – it’s reconstructed. Through photography, I can reconstruct a past experience as a material manifestation of my reality.”

All of the art students engage in different processes of creation with different purposes. By the end of the art show, the wide-ranging art community and its supporters huddled close to hear the awards.

Dery concluded the evening, saying, “Thank you all for coming. Because it’s not art if nobody looks at it. – All right . cheese cubes!

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