Just as Horvitz Hall is open and expansive, so were the mediums and themes of the art that was shown at Open Studio Night on Dec. 13.
The annual exhibit held in Horvitz featured the in-progress work of 20 Kenyon senior art students who are working toward their final exhibits to be shown in the Gund Gallery in the spring. In addition, some finished pieces by students and faculty also were on display, and attendees had the chance explore the spaces and classrooms of Horvitz itself, with its floor-to-ceiling window bays and polished concrete floors.
“It’s exciting to see their spaces and all their materials,” Marcella Hackbardt, associate professor of art, said of the students. “Seeing things in progress can show you the development of an artist’s work.”
It’s all part of the experience of being a studio art major at Kenyon.
Sam Ebert ’14 switched his major from history to studio art because he likes the interaction art provides. A history paper, he said, would be read by the professor, but probably not by anyone else. But art can be viewed by many.
“When I make art, people see it and ask me about it,” said Ebert from Philadelphia. “Art is of the present.”
“Other students don’t really see what the student artists are doing,” said Kelsey Rice ’14 from Buffalo who displayed two finished pieces and one work-in-progress at Open Studio. “With this, they can see the breadth of our work.”
Craig Hill, assistant professor of art, said a trend this year among the student artists is exploring mixed media within their work.
“Students are combining sculpture and drawing with video, or working on mixed media installation, and some are using nontraditional materials in the creation of their work,” Hill said.
Hallie Bahn ’14 combined a pen-and-ink graphic novel based on letters from a mother to her son during World War II with a semi-installation of a pop-up comic book store.
“It’s very dark, and I don’t spare any details of what the scenes would look like,” said Bahn who is from New York City.
Ebert mixed photographic elements with sculpture in his interactive piece that is meant to represent a glass window as it shatters “like a single moment in time.”
“I like to think simply when it comes to my projects,” he said. “I don’t like lofty concepts.”
Like Ebert, many students explored various themes in their work.
“They are engaging with many of the contemporary trends in art, such as identity, time and memory, the body, place, and the visual culture of science,” said Hackbardt.
Rice, who is double majoring in studio art and English, explores identity and escapism with her photographic diptych of people’s fantasy alter egos, depicted both in superhero and everyday settings.
“Everyone has this secret fantasy, like maybe getting their Hogwarts acceptance letter,” she said. “But it can only really exist in an artistic realm. I want to say, ‘This isn’t quite you. This isn’t real.’”
Even students who were nervous about Open Studio Night ended up enjoying it.
Abby Cheney ’14 admitted that she had been so impressed by what other students had done in years past that she worried hers wouldn’t compare. Her concerns turned out to be unfounded.
The Baltimore resident’s project featured small acrylic and watercolor paintings in an installation of her studio space reaching up the walls and onto the ceiling, “like the organic natural growth of a tree.”
In the end, Cheney liked the excitement of the evening and the feedback from what she described as an “encouraging audience.”