Essence: Works from the Senior Art Concentration Seminar

Christian Bachez ‘23

Staff Writer

Of the numerous, mysterious places to explore on the Hill, the two white shack-like buildings near the cemetery are some that many students never venture to. While some theorize that the skunks and raccoons call those places home, I can reassure you that it’s the Millard Art Center: the dwellings of the ever-so diligent student artists on campus. 

Seniors enrolled in the Seminar Concentration course have spent many long (and frankly very late) hours in those buildings to deliver a fabulous show come April 26th to the Cantor Art Gallery. Each of the thirteen students (including myself) have spent the past year perfecting our crafts both concept-wise and visually in an effort to create a cohesive piece or series. Much blood, sweat and Cool Beans caramel lattes have been spilled and many scolding critiques have been sat through to make this show happen. 

We have selected the title “Essence” as we believe each of our pieces exhibits the spirit of the artist who created the work. We all have our own flair displayed through the diverse array of mediums and ideas in the gallery. Walking through the space is a lively experience in it of itself that you just have to observe in person. Here’s a short sampler of what each artist will be trekking up the Hill from the Shacks:

Aisena Cekrezi utilizes meticulous fabric and sewing techniques in order to metaphorically interweave ideas relating to nostalgia. She captures the idea that all living things are universally connected through her use of natural textiles such as leather and fur and her depictions of serene landscapes. 

Brooke Bailey synthesizes and calls to conversation humans’ relationship with technology through her unique, organic paintings, mesmerizing videos, and interactive digital experiences. The entirety of her process behind making her work involves shifting from the real, physical world to the digital one which results in a complex creation that takes you on an enthralling, emotion-filled escapade. 

Emily Skilton digitally constructs collages through her self-taken photography which are about how the body and water interact. She skillfully captures the physical sensation of being engulfed by water by using techniques such as blurring in order to mimic the visual distortion the water creates. 

Ethan McGrath invents fantastic sculptures and paintings that, at face value, appear to be serene, realistic landscapes but viewers quickly realize they have many hidden, alluring elements to them sprinkled about. His creations call to conversation the constant struggle between humanity and morality. 

Jianing Bai masterfully sculpts and draws her works of art in an effort to connect back to her Chinese culture. Her pieces are her attempt at grasping at the life she was born in as she feels as though she is slowly sinking into adopting a more American lifestyle.

Kate Nedorostek is inspired by physical space in the world around her, specifically elements relating to architecture and physics. She creates fabulous paper installations and collages that are about the natural world and built environment. Her works include illusions that she hopes inspires people to get out some paper and scissors to make art. 

Kendra Offermann’s meticulous and gesture-based brushwork allows her to fuse a unique conglomerate of eccentric colors that, simply put, just work. There is something so visually appealing about her gouache and acrylic paintings. 

Noelle Ventura’s stunning work is about her meditative process of conceptualizing, drawing, tying, pasting, wrapping, and affixing her mainly nylon sculptures. She hopes that those who are in the presence of her work are present and experience the ridges, crevices, lines and forms she created. 

Obiamaka Igwenagu uses saturated colors in her oil paintings to celebrate Black culture. While most oil painters opt for traditional gessoed canvas, she uses fabrics with beautiful patterns printed on them. She is constantly inspired by the people around her including her friends, whom she often depicts. 

Olivia Wiatrowski expresses the unique qualities of women relating to personality, fashion and general aesthetics. She uses bold, contrasty colors, an imposing, distinctive line quality and exceptional use of texture through using elements of collage to express the gracefulness and elegance of the everyday woman. 

Teaken Haggerty’s plaster pieces are each a self-administered rorschach test where she essentially creates in a chaotic, random manner and then challenges herself to draw what she sees and interprets in each. Observing and understanding her thought process behind each painting is a work of art in itself!

Unique Grimes collages a combination of eclectic found material and bold family photos in order to create a beautiful amalgamation of what Black beauty really means. She aims to celebrate Black culture and life which, she feels, is oftentimes bogged down with images and stories of struggle.

I, Christian Bachez, have painted a mural that honors the life of Jonathan Robert Duchatellier ‘05 —a former student of the College who passed away at the very end of his Freshman year. A sign on the first floor of Stein explains how the Cafe Babel space was named in his honor yet not much information about him can be found online. I wanted to use this opportunity to inform the Holy Cross community about who he was as an individual, create something engrossing for both current students and close friends of Jon’s alike, and ruffle some feathers by painting this on the walls of the newest building on campus.

Featured image courtesy of Emily Skilton. Essence 2023 Senior Exhibition Poster

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