On Friday, Dec. 8, at 5 p.m. in Horvitz Hall, senior studio art majors will allow the Kenyon community an inside look into their processes of experimentation and discovery during the Department of Art’s annual Open Studio Night.
After late nights and early mornings in Horvitz, seniors will rejuvenate their artistic energy by sharing their work with friends, faculty and community members through displays in the state-of-the-art building’s lobby and studio spaces. “Everyone’s exhausted and working tireless hours up until the last minute. The reward is bringing it to the public and letting them see what we’ve been doing,” said Assistant Professor of Art Craig Hill, who instructs half of the senior majors in their yearlong projects.
For many of the students, the event will showcase how work from other classes directly influenced the sculptures, paintings and drawings they created this semester. “I’m trying to work my understanding of global and environmental politics into my work,” explained Dani Gorton ’18, from New Haven, Connecticut, who spent the semester exploring new ways to develop contemporary landscapes. “It’s not just art classes that influence our work.”
Shannon Hart ’18, who also majors in economics, spends most of her time in the sculpture wing of Horvitz, crafting elaborate tapestries and metal sculptures that speak to her personal and academic understanding of the economy in her home country, Zimbabwe. “I have this amazing opportunity to do research about the economic, political and social theory of Zimbabwe,” she said. "And I can’t help but make art about it because art is my language.”
Much of the artistic exploration driving the senior art majors’ work over previous years gained more speed this semester as the students moved into their private studios for the year. These rooms, shared with two to three other senior art majors, are filled from floor to ceiling with artwork, though they provide students with more than just a space to create.
“I sleep here. I eat here. I wake up and come here first thing every day, and I do all of my work here, regardless of the subject. … I’ve made all my classes about my art in some way,” said Henry Uhrik ’18, a studio art and Russian area studies double major from Phoenix. His work consists of comics big enough to line walls and as small as sticky notes, covering topics from Russian literature and sociology to computer programming language.
Hill recognized the ways these studio spaces have altered his students’ work. “It’s about having a space that’s yours,” he said. "It’s private, so people aren’t watching you. You can spread out, leave up your earlier work, and live with it, building up those experiences. As an artist, all you want to do is fill an empty space.”
Outside of the studios, the basement, lobby and walls of Horvitz will showcase other class work, including work by an installation art class, a book arts exhibition, and final projects from drawing and painting classes. “The facility itself is so incredible,” Gorton said. “This art community is here late at night every night, and now we get to be together here during the day, sharing stuff with people.”
“It’s an exciting time,” Hill agreed. “It’s a great energy, which everyone feeds off of in that last-minute push of the semester.”
—Anna Libertin ’18