The 19 studio art majors, in addition to one senior not majoring in studio art, gave visitors a rare look at their studios and works both finished and in progress. The yearly event is meant to give students experience in presenting their work as well as to prepare them for their final compositions, which are exhibited in the spring.
“The art department serves so many students from across the student body, so it’s a really great night for them to see their work up in the hallways and also to get to look at the studios that are usually closed to the public,” said Professor of Art Marcella Hackbardt, who teaches the senior seminars along with Assistant Professor of Art Sandra Lee.
The work that Jessica Ferrer ’17 of Bartlett, Illinois, displayed in her studio represents a new direction for the studio art and English major, who enjoys working extensively with paper because of its tactility. Lee suggested she experiment with different materials, so Ferrer decided to explore an interest in embroidery, working with a window screen to create patterns made from sewing pins.
“I’m really attached to paper, and so to move away from that was good. It pushed me into a space that I’m really excited about and think there’s a lot of potential to explore,” Ferrer said. “The window screen was a happy medium because it still had this nice feel to it.”
Emily Balber ’17, a studio art and psychology major from New York City, drew upon lessons from her psychology classes for her work. Balber’s tall, blue-hued yarn creation hung high in her studio is meant to give a ripple effect, symbolizing the fluidity of memories.
“Memory is notoriously unreliable,” Balber said. “This [piece] shows how the center is the critical point, and then it kind of fades. It goes into a monochrome lack of color, like how memories can become much less clear.”
Each studio in Horvitz Hall provides creative space for two to four seniors. The semi-private spaces give artists a chance to focus on their work in an independent setting as they prepare for their final exhibitions.
“One of the best parts about this building and the department is that the senior art majors do get studios,” Ferrer said. “We’re really spoiled in that way. They’re also pretty large, and it’s fun because you share with another person or a few other people.”
“The semi-private studios provide a great opportunity for our art majors to really excel in their practice,” Hackbardt said. “And having Horvitz Hall in the heart of campus really brings everyone together. We love being a part of the community in that way and sharing what we’re doing here.”
Hackbardt and Lee helped their senior students prepare for Open Studio by hosting a “Critique-a-Thon” earlier in the semester, inviting guest faculty members from Mount Vernon and Columbus, Ohio, to quiz students on their work and offer feedback.
“The students are ready now for a quick response to anyone who visits their studios and asks, ‘What is your work about?’” Hackbardt said.
In addition to the seniors’ artwork, students from other art classes adorned the building with their works from the fall semester. Student photographers hung their photos in the main Horvitz lobby, and drawing students as well as students in a book arts class displayed their work in hallways and stairwells for the event.