The 11th annual Juried art show brings student work to the “spotlight”

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Bethel’s latest art show in the Weaver Gallery is also a rather familiar one: the annual Juried student art show. Every year, the studio arts department sponsors an exhibition of student work from all over Bethel, from paintings to sculptures to drawings to design work, and features them in a collection of work. Possibly best of all for broke college students, there’s a cash prize for each category’s finest work. I talked with two students who have had their work featured in this year’s Juried exhibition about their work, as well as their life as visual artists. Art takes inspiration. That’s a given. But what inspires someone to become an artist as a whole? “That's kind of an odd question, because I've been doing art since...before I can remember,” said Hannah Pithey, senior studio arts major. “I've been drawing for a long time. It wasn't until my sophomore year that I actually considered majoring in it.” Pithey said that, when she was younger, she never wanted to share her art with others. “I was very possessive of my art when I was younger, like I didn't take any classes or anything, I was just good at it because I did it so much,” she said. Pithey initially came to Bethel as a social studies education major, then considered adding a studio art minor her sophomore year. When it became clear that the workload for that combination would be too high, she switched to a studio arts major, and plans to later get her master’s degree in library science. Pithey’s pieces in the exhibition include three paintings, a drawing and a ceramic dragon she made for a final project in her ceramics class. As for the pieces in the show, junior theatre arts and English for writing double major, Kayla Rundquist, has a rather practical inspiration. “They're pieces of musical theatre logos, and I really enjoy theatre,” said Rundquist, “I love musicals, and it just started out, before freshman year, I was in high school, and I wanted something to decorate my dorm room walls with that was ‘me,’ that I enjoy (and) that was kind of a crafty, cute-looking thing.” The first three logos she painted were that of “Les Misérables,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Beauty and the Beast.” “There are six of them now,” continued Rundquist, “and it was just because I wanted something pretty to look at that was part of me, that I enjoyed (and) that was a unique art piece that would hang on my wall that you wouldn't see just in someone else's (dorm.)” But do these pieces go beyond a simple desire to do something that looks nice? Is there a message these artists want to convey with their work? “Most of what I usually hope for when people look at my art, I want them to stop and...want to take time to actually look at it, and I like to instill a sense of, 'Wow, how did they do that?'” said Pithey. “Not as self-obsessed as that sounds.” Rundquist said that she hopes people, first of all, recognize the logos of shows like “Hamilton” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” but that her hope goes beyond that. “I hope that it kind of makes them look at them and they're like, 'Oh, what's this show? What is this show about? What does it represent?'” she said. “Maybe they'll look it up, maybe they'll listen to the soundtrack or maybe they see "Fiddler on the Roof" and they will remember a time when they went to see that show and they enjoyed it, or they say, 'Look at this cool way that theatre can be brought into the art world, that theatre is beautiful not just in its own setting and its own venue, but it's also something that can be beautiful in a painting and visual arts kind of way.'" The idea of a “tortured artist” is rather prevalent in pop culture, but what are some of the more positive aspects of being an artist? “My favorite part about painting, I suppose, is looking back on something that you've spent hours and hours working on and being really satisfied with how it looks aesthetically, and also how it moves you,” said Rundquist. “Just the sense that you could do anything, create anything, and that you can do something that not many people take the time to, or have the ability to,” said Pithey. The Juried Art Show extends from now until March 14 in the Weaver Gallery in the Everest-Rohrer building. There will also be a senior art show with work from the studio arts majors later this year. (Photography credit: Marc England II)
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