By Albert Nall, Staff Writer
The opening reception for the Curtain Call for Seniors took place in Gallery Visio from 12 to 5 p.m. on May 13 in the Millennium Student Center at the University of Missouri—St. Louis. A buffet table with refreshments led the debut of the exhibit, which features selected works from the 2015 Senior Seminar class in the Art History department at UMSL. The senior seminar, ST ART 4496, is the final requirement for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art that is offered in the spring, which is the semester prior to graduation from the program.
The attention that has been brought by the killing of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014 is a leading theme in the materials currently exhibited in Gallery Visio. One example is a diptych in charcoal and pastel entitled “‘Merica” by Christian Fitzgerald Cohill, graduate, social work. A diptych is an object with two flat plates that are attached at a hinge. In ancient Greece, the standard notebook of that time consisted of a pair of wax tablets, with depressed space that is filled with wax. When the notes were no longer needed by the scholar, the re-heated and smoothed over wax enabled reuse. Cohill has taken the craft a step further with the use of a stylus to craft the images of the robust police officer and the frailer-looking fleeing victim situated on the different tablets.
Another example of the Ferguson crisis in the exhibit includes the pen and marker etching “They Served and Protected the [explative] Out of Us” by Courtney Biernat, senior, studio art. The piece is a feminist styled illustration on law enforcement and social justice complete with the teary and puffy-eyed women fleeing from the smoke filled malaise. The signature piece of Biernat that promotes the Gallery Visio exhibit is the emblematic and familiar “And so I Wait.” This is the poignant (if not distressing, depending on the interpretation) illustration of a young woman in braided locks akin to the classic tale of Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm.
Many emblems adorn the different works, such as “Roaches: ‘The Gang’,” a pen and marker etching on a Bristol board by Aaron Kunkel, senior, studio art. “Roaches” is an example of exemplary graphic art that any aficionado would be proud to call their own. The accompaniment of bows, arrows, a dagger, a sword, and a large bolt that is represented in the drawing is displayed on a mantle in way that enhances the work.
An example of the more splendid works is “At the Beach with Artist,” an oil on canvas painting of a mother and daughter by Yannick Williams, senior, studio art. “Vortex,” another oil on canvas painting by Rachel McAlevey, senior, studio art, is an evocative blue and white eye that represents an obliquely rounded image being cast in the space and infinity of the unknown.
The Department of Art and Art History at UMSL offers many great programs that range from graphic design and printmaking to general fine arts and studio art. For more details on various the art programs and divisions at UMSL, visit www.umsl.edu/~art/Contact/index.html. The Curtain Call for Seniors exhibit will continue through August 19. Among the many opportunities for art majors at UMSL are scholarships and paid internships at local venues such as the St. Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park, along with other local art institutes. For information about upcoming events at Gallery Visio, contact them at 314-516-7922.