Sommer Ross ‘22
28 April 2022 – CANTOR ART GALLERY
Last week, Thursday evening marked the opening of the 2022 Senior Concentration Seminar Exhibition in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery. The show showcases works from the senior studio and architectural studies majors—each of whom spent the entire year working closely with professors to develop a cohesive body of work in a variety of different
mediums. The concentration seminar helps students break free from ordinary assignments and find their own artistic voice by working on small bodies of work throughout each semester. This is quite the change from usual classes as Aliyah Coplan, a biology and studio art double major, stated: “It was a totally new experience to work on one project all semester, but it was rewarding to be able to see my work grow and change and ultimately come together into a cohesive body of work.” The majors go through an “intense yet gratifying process,” says Stan Yarmoussik, an architectural studies major and Russian minor, as they work through “a lot of self-scrutiny.” “There were days where it became tiring,” commented Dora Calva, a fellow architectural studies major and studio art minor, whose five day charcoal wall drawing adorns the front wall of the gallery. The seminar provides a unique opportunity for these young artists. “Taking the semester to work on all of our pieces was a really cool experience,” said Shea O’Scannlain, an English and studio art double major. “We were in charge of setting our own dates and making sure we could accomplish the goals we set up for ourselves.”
This idea was reflected in the environment Professor Cristi Rinklin, Chair of the Visual Arts Department and leader of the second semester of the concentration seminar, created. “I took the approach of focusing on them just putting in a set amount of hours in the studio each week, rather than making ‘exhibition ready work,’” she said, which really allowed each of the seniors to “relax and lean into their process, and connect to a body of work that they felt extremely committed to.” Julia Covelle, a sociology/studio art double major and winner of this year’s John Paul Reardon Award, commented on what this process was like: “It was really cool to see the progression of the work over the semester and how everyone’s work naturally evolved into a finished product,” she said. “Working on the same pieces over a longer period of time left room for things to change and have a more finished product in the end.”
With classes and events on campus finally returning to in-person, the seniors were able to work closely with the gallery staff, in particular gallery director Meredith Fluke, throughout the semester. This spring marks the first in-person spring since Fluke’s time began at Holy Cross, which allowed her the opportunity to attend critiques during the first semester. “Having those discussions early on in the process really helped me get to know the class and their work better,” she stated. “Beyond that, this was a particularly strong group of artists, so it was enjoyable to watch them progress and hone in on their ideas.” The opening of this exhibition has felt particularly special as the pandemic has definitely been a major contributor to these artists’ careers. Having gone into lockdown their sophomore year, they all “went through the shared experience of bewilderment and sudden adjustment to making studio art in their bedrooms, and then spent the following year doing pretty much the same thing,” noted Professor Rinklin. “So for them to have not only a year to work in person in their studios, but also the chance to have an in-person exhibition in the gallery with public programming felt really significant.” Director Fluke had some challenges to face as well since most of the artists were working in such large scale works. She wanted to “make sure each artist had the right amount of space for and around their pieces” and that “there were hints of everyone’s work visible from the windows at the front of the gallery so that visitors would be drawn in.” Drawn in they were, as the Cantor Gallery was filled to the brim Thursday evening. “It was wonderful to see so much support and enthusiasm for the senior artists,” commented Fluke. “It is really special to be able to celebrate the talents and hard work of students… they should all be incredibly proud of the work they’ve done—especially through the circumstances of the past four years.” There were some notable faces in the crowd, Rinklin noticed: “President Rougeau came in, which was exciting, as well as a lot of faculty and distinguished alums, but what was really exciting to see was so many students. It felt like the place to be last night.”
For all the artists, this is the first time their work is being exhibited in a gallery setting. For Dora Calva, it feels like “some of those sleepless nights paid off. I’ve seen my work for weeks, so to be able to have some other people see my art for the first time is rewarding.” “The gallery is kind of magical in that way,” stated Rinklin, “where the work transforms in this space.” Several of the artists felt this same way. “It was very surreal to see all our hard work hung up, and was super satisfying to see our work in a more professional light,” says Julia Covelle whose paintings welcome viewers into the Cantor. “One of the best parts of this process was being able to see my works framed and in a gallery space for the first time,” notes Aliyah Coplan. “It was cool to see how being in a new space transformed my paintings and really made them come together.” The change of space was “beyond satisfying” according to Stan Yarmoussik whose sculptures stand tall in the middle of the space and on the back walls of the gallery. “There is a huge difference between seeing the work in Millard versus the gallery,” he says. “The gallery enhanced the presentation of everyone’s work in such a positive way.”
Having the works finally up and open for viewing in the Cantor, “makes all the work worth it,” says Shea O’Scannlain whose oil paintings mark the midway point in the viewers’ journey through the exhibition, “It is such a great feeling seeing everyone’s work up in the gallery.” “It’s amazing to see,” stated Rinklin, and the crowd on Thursday must have felt the same way as she noted, “Everyone who has seen it has commented on how strong the show is.” The show is aptly named “Remember Tomorrow” to highlight how each of the artists are working through themes of time and memory. “‘Remember Tomorrow’ references the specific place in our lives that we’re at right now as graduating seniors,” stated Coplan. “We are in a place where we’re so focused on the future, looking forward to graduation, new jobs, and the beginning of a new phase of our lives. Yet at the same time, because we are leaving a chapter of our lives behind, there is also an element of nostalgia as we reflect on the last four years. I think that this is why many of our projects dealt with memory.” Covelle also noticed how the title references the themes of this year’s Arts Transcending Borders title “Looking Backward, Moving Forward.” “I think as a group we identified memory and moving forward as big themes across our work,” she says, “and the title kind of brings together these ideas of reflection but not ruminating on the past.” The title simply “means to look towards the future,” says Calva, but also “encapsulates all our ideas into one title that brings the group together,” commented O’Scannlain.
While the opening was a major success for these artists, the show is not over. “I believe that communities really benefit from having artists and the arts among them, and from being able to experience the artworks in person,” said Meredith Fluke. “You could really feel that energy in the room.” The show, which includes works from artists Paige Epp (architectural studies/studio art), Grace Hoelscher (international studies/studio art), Sommer Ross (studio art), Natalie Scholz (mathematics/studio art), as well as the aforementioned artists, will remain on view in the Cantor Gallery (First Floor O’Kane) until May 27. The gallery is open from 10am-5p.m. weekdays and 12-5 p.m. on weekends. “Each and every one of these seniors should feel a tremendous sense of pride,” said Professor Rinklin. “I’ve heard such great feedback on this show. It’s an amazing way to end the year.”
A special thanks goes out to Professor Beaudoin (Digital Art) who brought the seniors through their first semester of the seminar, to John Carney (Studio Supervisor) who worked closely with each of the seniors to troubleshoot some works, to all the professors of the Visual Arts Department—studio and history—who helped guide these seniors through their four years at the College, and to the rest of the gallery staff, mainly Paula Rosenblum and Tim Johnson, who were instrumental in promoting the exhibition and getting the work hung and looking professional.