An overriding theme would be hard to find in this year’s Open Studio that was held on Friday, Dec. 5, in Horvitz Hall. Ditto with materials or form. What visitors experienced when the senior art majors opened their studios to display finished works — as well as those in progress — was variety.
“We encourage them to make themselves vulnerable, to try new techniques,” said Karen Snouffer, professor of art. Snouffer, along with Barry Gunderson, professor of art, teach the senior seminars, preparing the 17 studio art majors for their final spring exhibitions. The work shown Friday may or may not be part of their final comps. “We want the work to be a reflection of something they believe in, of themselves, though it doesn’t have to be autobiographical,” Snouffer said.
Cat Raynor ’15 of Rye, N.Y., presented two different explorations of a similar idea: transforming mundane materials beyond their usual connotations. She made sculptural paintings using tin foil, cotton balls and bubble wrap, then painted them with bright colors to create “otherworldly” compositions. She also exhibited oil paintings based on photographs she’s taken of rotting fruit, but with exaggerated colors.
“When someone views them, they’ll be unrecognizable, but just familiar enough that they’ll want to look closer,” she said. She added that, until recently, she’s focused on representational photographs and drawings. Her latest work stretches her creativity. “I’m not entirely comfortable letting go of exact depictions.”
Snouffer called the photographs by Sarabeth Domal ’15 “haunting.” The Avon-By-the-Sea, N.J., native said she turned her emphasis to a large digital project that includes compilations of her photographs shot at night with long exposure. “I’m working with the concept of time and memory,” said Domal, who also played on Kenyon’s conference-winning women’s soccer team.
For Grace Janzow ’15 of Clarence, N.Y., a studio arts and economics double major, her inspiration came from working in the admissions office. During the course of a week, she had multiple female prospective students ask her if she felt inferior as a woman at Kenyon because the College had been all-male for so long. “I’m very lucky. I don’t have to think about that,” she said. “But that’s the result of a lot of my predecessors.”
So, Janzow interviewed Kenyon alumnae from each decade since women have been admitted. She used sketches and photography to capture their portraits, but in a nontraditional landscape format. She then used color so the focus is solely on the face, not hair or makeup. “I wanted to make them all stand alone, but be unified,” she said.
Taylor Sweeney ’15 from Pittsburgh said the sculptures he showed use construction wood and rebar. “A lot of these objects are not seen in the final product,” he said. “In my sculptures they take center stage. I put them in the spotlight.”
He liked presenting his artwork at Open Studio because he enjoyed hearing the reactions from people outside the art department. “Showing my stuff is nice and having that place and time is pretty cool.”