The Department of Art and Design hosted the opening reception to the 2016 Senior Show in Painting, Drawing and Sculpture May 4.
The show featured the work of Southern Miss seniors Amanda Kleinhans, Magen Pierce and Michelle Wenzler in the Gallery of Art and Design located in the George Hurst Building.
Sculpture major and art history minor Kleinhans said the major theme of her showcase “Chimera” was growth and decay.
The body of work allowed me the opportunity to pick up the pieces of my decay and create some creatures that would live in this new world that’s being rebuilt,” Kleinhans said.
Kleinhans said she incorporates elements such as bones, stoneware, plaster wrap, plaster, cast iron, steel, wood, india ink, spray paint, sinew and moss in her work.
“By choosing materials that are organic and needed little, if any, treatment, the viewer gets to experience some of these materials in their raw states,” Kleinhans said. “I think it makes the pieces slightly more relatable and realistic. When we can look at something and recognize similar items that we also possess — skulls, bones, sinew — it makes it easier to relate to what we’re looking at and place ourselves among them.”
Painting and drawing major Pierce said her project, titled “Echoing into the Void,” focused on charcoal drawings and paintings that share a theme of circular forms.
“The central theme of my work also revolves around dense to sparse contrast,” Pierce said. “In other words, it’s about having these circular forms floating up at the top of the picture plane then fading away into a void or the sparse area.
“These circular forms for me represent cycles throughout life. Life is made up of cycles that bring on strong change then fade away into nothing, but whether good or bad, growth is achieved.”
In her artist statement, Pierce said creating these forms was a way for her to be spiritually connected with herself and the world around her.
“I think that the spiritual part for me is the process of making the work, but also in the fact that once I have created it, the experience doesn’t just belong to me,” Pierce said. “I hope that visually it allows people to experience what I felt making the work. I think another part of the spiritual element comes from the fact that the circular forms itself represents a constant flow or cycle of energy throughout everything.”
Sculpture major Wenzler said her showcase titled “Towering Forms” was inspired by the wheel by which she produces her work.
“It’s kind of like my get away from the world,” Wenzler said. “I can throw myself into the spinning clay on the wheel, and it brings me to a meditative state.
“Everything around me just kind of melts away, and the only thing that’s important at the time is the clay and what I’m trying to make it [become]. Throughout my career at USM, I’ve been trying to push myself to go larger and do something different — manipulate the form.”
Wenzler said she chose earth tones to reflect the material and keep it earthy.
“It’s a personal preference,” Wenzler said. “I do love earth tones. Clay — it’s from earth, and I wanted to keep with the material. I just like the natural colors that we find in our world.”
Wenzler said she started out this semester with just lumps of clay.
“Now the [works] are standing tall and beautiful,” Wenzler said. “It was great and I feel just on cloud nine, really — I’m just super happy, super excited and proud of myself. I’m a perfectionist at heart. I’ve always tried to challenge myself not to keep it symmetrical — not to keep it my definition of perfection and give it something new and character.”
The show will continue until May 13. For more information about the Department of Art and Design, visit the USM webpage. The event is free and open to the public.