By Jessica McKenna, Contributing Writer
A semester’s worth of hard work came to an end on April 13th with the opening of the Senior Art students’ Thesis Exhibition, “Five to Nine.” The sun slowly disappeared from the sky over the UMF campus casting a faint blue shadow as four of UMF’s Senior artists made their way down the tarred pathway to the small art gallery near the green. The artist entered the compact gallery where their names were printed on the wall brightly lit by a spotlight for all to see. Each floor was a mixture of different artists creations using various media to convey their work.
For Senior artist Gabrielle Ganiere the exhibition signals an end to her journey at UMF. “This is my last big thing,” said Ganiere. “I do have a symposium talk about my artistic process but this is the pivotal moment.”
Ganiere’s work stood out amongst her peers as her media consisted of pantyhose, trash bags, yarn and other fabrics that brought a softer tone to the exhibition. Each piece embodied a creature of sorts with some invoking memories of childhood stuffed animals or beloved pets, while others made spectators think twice before they took a step closer. “I want them to be confused on how they feel,” said Ganiere, “Do they want to get close or stay away, I like to see people’s expectations of each piece.”
A pink mattress laid against a wall with plastic milk jugs, a wooden chair, and a blond wig attached to the once familiar object. Artist Shane Cynewski’s body of work made spectators feel as though they had entered a home but the everyday items they encountered had changed.
“I used sculpture as my media and domestic objects, so items you could find in a home,” said Cynewski. “The reason I use those objects is I try to inverse the desirability of them.”
Each sculpture turned household items into unknown objects to the viewer with a changed purpose. Cynewski and his classmates had been preparing for the show since the fall of 2016 starting with senior seminar. “We wrote our thesis in the fall and then started working on our body of work,” said Cynewski. Each Senior spent their spring semester finishing their body of work, participating in faculty critiques every few weeks and writing press releases and artist statements.
As the crowd grew larger the artists were surrounded by friends, family, and professors sharing words of congratulations and acknowledgments of a job well done. Spectators moved from piece to piece at a glacial pace taking in as much as they could trying not to miss any part of the artist’s message. UMF President Kathryn Foster spoke with an artist in the middle of the Emery Community Arts Center flex space, and followed her to a piece of work to delve into the meaning and the artist’s process. “It’s thrilling to see the culmination of so much thought, hard work, and creativity!” said Foster.
The exhibition continues through May 13 in both the UMF Art Gallery and the Emery Community Arts Center showcasing the works of the six senior UMF artists.