Student art on display in McCarthy Center Gallery

Each exhibit culminates a semester's work, Professor Collier says

January 30, 2020
By Ariel Wish '20

Those frequently passing by the McCarthy Art Gallery will notice an array of senior student work on display, rotating each week throughout the semester. These exhibitions “are not only the culmination of a semester of work on a focused art project or series, but the culmination of the students’ entire development in the Art & Design major,” said Professor of Art & Design Brian Collier, who has been guiding the students as they plan, execute, and showcase their individual projects.

Preparation for this time to shine for the students began last year in JuNelson art McCarthynior Studio, a course designed to teach them how to direct their own work through a series of small, individualized projects. After having the summer to ruminate, students come into their fall semester Senior Seminar ready to embark on their projects.

This is exactly what happened for senior Art & Design student Amanda Nelson, who ended her Junior Studio drawing tree growth rings, which sparked her interest in the use of pen and ink as a medium. That summer, she drew a goldfinch and thought, “this would be really interesting to pursue.” Her exhibition, titled “Avium,” showcases a variety of types of birds, all drawn with pen and ink. “It wasn’t until the final weeks that I started producing things I was ready to show,” said Nelson, attesting to the amount of dedication, trial and error, and resilience that it takes to produce showcase-quality work. “I kept building and building until I eventually got to the level of detail where I felt ready.”

Sarah Carlson-McNally’s exhibit, which will be showcased in late February, derives from her interest in formal abstraction: “I exploit the canvases by taking away their structure aMcCarthy art McNallynd crumpling or folding them, or stretching them flat on the wall. To enhance the gestural marks, I use joint compound with acrylic paint. I want to explore painting beyond the confinement of the square or rectangular canvas, and go further by incorporating video and even elements of Photoshop,” she said. She hopes to continue to explore and refine this work long after her time at St. Mike’s.

Sarah Donnelly, hoping to be accepted into an art therapy graduate program, explains that art therapy is defined as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” Donnelly explores this idea of using the creative process as a means to enrich and restore lives in her exhibition, titled “Interviews.” She said, “My inspiration has always come from my mother, an artist herself, who has always emphasized that art is way more than recreational and should be respected as such.”McCarthy art Donnelly

These are only a few of the exhibitions coming within the next couple month, testifying to the creativity and passion that is on the forefront of this year’s senior gallery shows.

“Almost every student goes through a lot while producing the work, and there are amazing moments of discovery and wonder accompanied by frustration and sometimes anger. In all my years at Saint Michael’s, with all my students, from those who were more naturally gifted to those who struggled, the moment the work is up in the gallery and the lights turn on is pretty magical for everyone involved,” said Professor Collier.

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