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Artists Statements

ALLISON ASHBROOK I intend to inform viewers of historical and contemporary individuals throughout history that were accomplished in their fields but were criticized and slandered for their sexual orientation or gender. Each piece is tailored to the person depicted and includes the printed text of explicit slurs and contextualized quotes. Persons featured are Dr. James Barry, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Alan Turing, Christine Jorgenson, Keith Haring, Marcia P. Johnson. Thematically, this series includes absurdist humor juxtaposed with social justice intentions. I am aesthetically inspired by political and social activism posters and by silkscreen printing. My work incorporates acrylic painting techniques to texture and layer designs with meaning. I intend to criticize the slanders presented and support the reclamation of pride and identity within the LGBTQ+ community.

RACHEL GARASTIK I create decorative patterns from vernacular photographs through distorting and disfiguring both the physical object of the picture, as well as the subject matter. In doing this, I remove figural representation and utilize their qualities of form and color. The act of eradicating all sentiment from these images allows them to exist solely for their aesthetics, causing them to shift from the private to the public sphere. By installing these patterns as wallpaper, they transform to be both an aesthetic and decorative object. This gives otherwise wasted images a chance to be useful and seen. In working with vernacular photographs, I found myself asking the question, "What does it mean to be forgotten?" and projecting my fears of living a life with no purpose and being forgotten when I died. If I wanted to avoid this both for these photographs and my life, I needed to think about the characteristics of what makes something memorable. Language and the ways in which we discuss objects and ideas play an important role in this. Many times, 'forgotten' is linked with 'obsolete': in thinking about long-lost household appliances, it's usually because something better came along and made the current appliance useless. Useless. There's another word that seems joined with 'forgotten.' When people no longer need something or an object isn't fulfilling a purpose, it's cast aside as something not worth our time. If I was going to solve the problem of these photographs' uselessness, I needed to give them a new purpose. This is how I came about transforming these nostalgic, private memory objects into ones that were public and decorative. It seems that decorative art and fine art are diametrically opposed. In my research, I came across an article that declared, "Fine art pieces are meant to provoke an emotional reaction or generate an intellectual response. They can convey a variety of ideas and emotions--good and bad, shocking, disturbing, or even ugly. Decor art, on the other hand, is limited by its decorative function. You won't find any disturbing pieces of decorative art as the decor has to be beautiful and aesthetically pleasing to fulfill its main goal." I disagree. Why do the two forms of art have to be mutually exclusive? And here I found another problem to sort out through my work. How was I going to create works of art from vernacular photographs that could be classified as both 'decorative art' and 'fine art' simultaneously? I answered this through developing patterns that were more complex than my initial pieces. Taking in my work from afar, the viewer sees patterns that are complex in arrangement and rich in color. Only upon close inspection are the peculiarities revealed: a set of arms, half a face, perhaps an animal. It depends on the proximity of the viewer and their relationship to the space in which the art is presented. The complexity of my patterns is due to its repetitive qualities, which can have a dizzying effect when taken in from a distance and mask the strangeness that occurs upon close inspection. Another reason behind the repetition comes from the belief that meaning is lost the more something is repeated. The focus then shifts from wanting to know the background information about the photograph to recognizing the formal elements of form and color. Through this process of questioning usefulness, memory, and the polarization decorative versus fine art, one of my main inspirations come from the work of Joe Rudko, an artist currently based in Seattle. He also works with vernacular photographs,albeit in a more physical and analogue way than myself. In an interview done with BreeLamb for In The In-Between, Rudko talks about how "it can be freeing to give up the attempt to know and lean into what you don't know." At the beginning of my work, I struggled with not knowing who the people in the photographs were, what they went onto do with their lives, and if they still existed today. I tossed around the idea of trying to find them, to make connections, and I half-hoped that someone would see my work with these images and recognize someone they knew. Now, however, I'm learning that it' okay to rest in that unknown and that these vernacular photographs can still go on to serve a purpose without a person knowing their origin story; this is what my work has accomplished.

SAM HAINES Sam Haines is a graphic arts student who finds joy in designing as well as having an appreciation for photography. He primarily uses Adobe Suite. His BFA thesis portfolio presents design work for a fictitious snow resort - Snowstar Peaks. The Snowstar Peaks resort makes an effort to design marketing to night time skiing. Sam enjoyed going on ski trips during the winter with his family and noticed that ski resorts didn't promote night skiing. The goal of the Snowstar Peaks Project was to create designs for the resort and merchandise that would reflect a nighttime aesthetic. While the central theme of the project revolves around designs for the resort, the resort concept intends to create a family experience. It offers several activities to those who do not wish to ski so that there's always something to do.

CHRISTOPHER HARTZ I create work that critiques 21st century home dĂŠcor. I am interested in what makes empty words and phrases like "home" or "just breathe" meaningful enough to hang on the wall. In place of an image, visual, or something made by an artist, mass-produced home dĂŠcor that tells the viewer exactly what to derive from it, is hung on the wall. Connotation dictates why words like "fellatio" and "failure" are not displayed in the same manner. I comment on consumable home decor by using tactile fine art techniques that include oil painting, silkscreen printmaking, sculpture, and ceramics to make my work. At the bottom of each piece, I state, "I have made this" work. Indicating that I have made the work is a claim that it should have value. In reality, my pieces are no more valuable than any item an individual can purchase in a store. The value and gratification of my time investment have no function. During the initial production of a work, the work has meaning. The artist's reason for the production and the work itself is connected. Subsequent copying of the work does not contribute to the progression of the work and therefore loses the original meaning.

CASEY KING The creations presented were given life through an escalating obsession towards a long-gone relic of Gary, Indiana. What began as a silly joke, a hoax coupon ad that I created to post around campus before last Halloween, quickly became much more. A monster in itself: combining research, 3-D scanning/printing technology, immense nostalgia for America's pre-internet/cellphone past, and a good dose of fun; I have stitched together a homage to a forgotten gem of roadside America. My work serves as a tribute to a lost monster of yesteryear: The Frank-N-Stein Drive-In. My investigation as to how this strange, 1970's dream of Mr. Ralph Peterson came to be and how three decades later it came to a halt not been all too conclusive. I do know, however, that my pursuit of finding out just that is not over. Fine art aside, this project is a passion project. In the spirit of the great P.T. Barnum and illustrator/explorer Robert Ripley, this is my means of presenting a grand show and tell...a "believe it or not." As I go out into the world and continue my pursuits as a thinker and creator I will keep in mind what I imagine Mr. Peterson held close when erecting a gigantic fiberglass Frankenstein on Route 20 to attract motorists; hungry for foot-long hotdogs with blue relish and frosty mugs of root beer within his Addams Family styled eatery. Which is this: to try new things, have fun, dare to be different, and open up the cellar door per se without fear of what may lurk on the other side - without fear of what may become of the sparks which ignite when that little lightbulb flashes over one's head. If there is one thing I wish for viewers to obtain from this work, it is this: we're all missing out on a chance to enjoy a foot-long hot dog with blue relish and a frosty mug of root beer within a haunted house just minutes from campus. Today, a dentist's office called Happy Smiles Dentistry sits on the site of the Frankenstein Drive-In. So as old customers of the long-gone Frankenstein Drive-In pass through its door to fix their root beer plagued teeth, I'm reminded that often things in life come full circle. The serendipity of me discovering this forgotten monster of Hoosier history in my final year of undergrad and pursuing it with great dedication is no exception to that theory.

ANNMARIE OLIVOTTO I create self-portraits that visualize my anxiety toward the future. Today, we are so connected to the online world that we are in danger of losing sight of the hand-made traditions of artmaking. I am a hands-on artist. Nowadays, digital art like graphic design and photography seems to be favored over more traditional work like drawing and painting. Initially, I capture portraits on my phone. Intense lighting cast dark shadows that diminish parts of my body, visualizing how our bodies exist in the digital world. I then use these images as a source that translates the photographs into paintings. The atmospheric quality of my work represents this complex dialogue while simultaneously exposing the futuristic world we live in. I imprint my identity into my work as I utilize my body (hand, fingerprints, footprints) as a tool to paint —intense bright colors highlight fragments of my body. I am in contrast to the darkness that attempts to take over the painting. The resultant image reflects a push and pulls using labor to signify human touch and history against a vast digital universe.

BENJAMIN PYTYNIA As a design student, I have always tried to explore my creativity and experiment with different styles of art and design. Stikor, a street-artstyled brand of colorable sticker art, encourages the audience to explore and experiment. Stickers are a popular way for an individual to display their interests and opinions to others. The problem with conventional stickers is that they are compositions consisting of a single, unchangeable image. Further, there is an opportunity for stickers that offer more social commentary. Teens and young adults make up the primary consumer demographic for stickers, and they are more socially and politically conscious than previous generations. Stikor expands the expressive capabilities of conventional stickers by making them more interactive for the user. A sticker is no longer a single image but a composition consisting of multiple colorable images that can be rearranged by the user to create something entirely new. I choose the brand's street art theme because of its close association with activism, social critique, and rebelliousness, all of which reflected in the sticker content. Additionally, the diverse graphical styles and bright paint colors reflected in street art allow for a brand and product that can be flexible artistically and a standout amongst store shelves.

MIRIAM RAMIREZ As a call to action, I chose to focus on environmental issues - global warming and climate change. We are all very aware of the current state of our planet. From the devastation of the Amazon forest, the rapid escalation of the Australian fires, smog matters, dying coral reefs, and the ice caps melting. I created collages by recycling images and bringing new meaning to them. This medium also allows me to present ideas regarding collective involvement and efforts to improve these issues. Displayed as prayer candles exhibited on a Day of the Dead style altar, they can symbolize bringing 'light' or awareness of environmental concerns and a request for healing.

KAYLA SIMS My art visualizes the state of pressure and stress. My work is very personal and often investigates changing emotions and states of mind. I go through many emotions a day; my mental state keeps changing. It feels like going in and out of a mysterious tunnel. I'm scared of just being hurt. I try to push myself through my pain and tears. The theme for my paintings is dark, and it could evoke an anxious or upsetting feeling. The colors look bright and contrasting on the outside, but the inside subject is very bleak. The use of shapes and colors represents different feelings or emotions.

DERREK STITT My work is about capturing moments of life that most people overlook, and I animate them. There are a lot of things happening every day, and sometimes the smaller things are forgotten. Things like commercials while you're watching a television show or movie. Or what you did before getting to work. I think that the small stuff or moments that take place can help define a person. The small, forgettable stuff tends to be pushed to the back of the mind. Maybe because the bigger, more important things like a promotion or an achievement stick more with us. In my work, I want to play out some of the smaller moments through cartoon animation and present or 'play' them out in a comedy.

JULIA VALE Whether it be in school, work, or in my free time at home, I have always enjoyed expressing myself through art. Being in graphic design has pushed me to explore more of my creativity and further expand my knowledge in the field. To me, creating art is very close to my heart and something I hope to continue in my future job. Using my art-eye and love for Bohemian design and culture, I designed Ananda Java, a coffee brand, and experience. Colorful and rustic, this coffee brand brings out a beautiful balance of patterns. Ananda Java was designed to create a relaxed and fun experience for those who want to explore a different or new perspective through unique designs and materials. My goal was to present an alternative coffee brand to standard options such as Starbucks or Dunkin'. I believe there isn't just one way a coffee brand should or shouldn't look like. Ananda Java is a one-of-a-kind brand that will offer the consumer a relaxed experience and excitement once they view the products.

MEGAN ZABRECKY Creating a bridge from old to new, Wild-Eyed Wine uses a surprise factor to engage young consumers in a game aimed at disrupting the wine industry. Wild-Eyed Wine, designed to create a conversation within a diverse group of friends, is sure to leave everyone feeling a range of different and enjoyable emotions as showcased throughout each label. It is presenting a 'cool factor' of standing out to consumers and shelf appeal. The 'cool factor' is strongly influenced by social media, and so, Wild-Eyed addresses contemporary design sensibilities as well as accessibility. My purpose for creating this beverage and lifestyle brand is to build off of the experimental beer design that the wine industry is just recently catching upon. Through the usage of everyday language versus elitist wine language, Wild-Eyed uses approachable design to allow the wine to appeal to a broader audience and demographic.

BFA CRITIQUE COMMITTEE David Klamen, Dean, School of the Arts and Chancellor's Professor Dr. Jonathyn Briggs, Assistant Dean, School of the Arts and Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences FINE ARTS DEPARTMENT FACULTY Corey Hagelberg, Adjunct Faculty Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, Assistant Professor Jennifer Greenburg, Associate Professor John Guiterrez, Adjunct Faculty Kelly Knaga, Senior Lecturer Ben Murray, Adjunct Faculty Derek Walter, Clinical Assistant Professor

INVITED SCHOOL OF THE ARTS STAFF Cathy Feeman, Exhibition and Project Coordinator Lauren M. Pacheco, Director of Arts Programming and Engagement and Adjunct Faculty Sherry VerWey, Senior Departmental Secretary











Profile for IUN School of the Arts

2020 BFA | Artists Statements  

2020 IUN SOA BFA | Artists Statements

2020 BFA | Artists Statements  

2020 IUN SOA BFA | Artists Statements


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