CSB/SJU Senior Art Major Preview

Sample of Works from Senior Preview Show:


Senior Art Majors Artist Statements:

Ali Biwer

 "I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing." Socrates

To me this quote means exactly as it says; I am wise, for I know I am not wise. I am able to grow for I know I can grow. I am able to err, for I know to err is to live. In my art work, as well as in my daily life, there is one thing I hold as a constant reminder: Everything is much bigger and more significant than me and to think anything less is plain ignorance. We pass people on a daily basis with different backgrounds, different ideals, relationships, and different lives. To notice individuals, their battles, their mere existence, is to acknowledge something far bigger than ourselves. It is to acknowledge a community; a people who while all different, are all looped, tied, twisted, and stitched together in ways we can only begin to imagine. Across state lines, countries borders, oceans, and religion. Across the walls of any and all pride.

In my art work, I choose to often focus on portraiture, emotions, politics and war. The brutal, the hard to bare looking at, the impossible to even begin to understand or have true wisdom of. I believe that rather than passing up a tough subject, such as war and all the people who get caught, and trapped for something nice to look at, I would much rather force a viewer into a form of uncomfortableness. One in which it is hard to look at and acknowledge, but also near impossible to look away. One that confronts our idealistic lifestyles that we so often take for granted. It breaks the bubble of everything being fine just because we as individuals are fine and comfortable.

I choose to focus on large, raw canvas pieces that include paintings, reverse oil prints and stitchery. To me stitchery represents the world in that no matter what a tangled, capturing mess is may be or be forced to become, it is all still connected, belonging forever to one another and each other.

Hannah Anderson

My art is inspired by my interest in both realism and abstraction and the relationship between these two forces. I think that when abstraction and realism collaborate with one another, it creates an experience that is unique for each individual viewer. For me, realism and abstraction through artwork can bring other juxtapositions to light as well; for instance, individual versus mass production and culture, rational versus irrational thought, high art versus low art, chaos versus order, and imitations among many others that may make it hard to find the line between what is fictional and what is reality, especially in today's digital era.  Depiction of reality has changed in our modern era, which is something I wish to visually explore. I like to think that the portraits in this series are setting up a world for the viewer due to their dominant gaze.

For this project, I am mixing the mediums of oil painting and photography when experimenting with the relationship between abstraction and realism. I think that photography is a wonderful contrast with the abstraction one can bring to life through painting and the manipulation of colors and textures. Although digital photography is a beautiful art form in itself, I love contrasting it with the raw aesthetic of paint, whether this be painting over a photograph, or juxtaposing the two mediums next to each other.  They help to depict the deeper contrasts between abstract and rational thinking that we experience in our lives every day. I have been very intrigued by portraits lately, how I can make a human face look both abstract and realistic at the same time, and how they can have the power of the gaze upon whomever is viewing the artwork. I experiment with brush strokes, brush size, colors, and proportional distortions when researching this concept.

Jana Patka

Rather than sitting down and designing drafts and sketches, I would rather create with a larger idea in mind, even if it means being a little more impromptu in my work. With the idea of simply "going for something," this brings me to my senior exhibition artwork. I did not sit down and plan exactly what I wanted to do, step by step. I wanted a sense of freedom and discovery through the process of painting. Through my exploration, I chose to experiment with print and paint, and I chose to place it on a raw surface-wood-to not only to mimic the raw emotion that the piece itself puts forth, but also to enhance the idea of something not entirely planned. What better of a way to convey this than to do so with the appreciation for dance?

Dance can give a storyline and therefore it seems only fitting to recreate that for the audience. Although these prints are of all different types of dance, I put them together to create one entire sequence, from start to finish. It is up to the viewer to see what emotion is evoked through each individual piece.  I did not want to have it set preemptively. The steps for my process consisted of me cropping photos to manipulate the dancer's pose that I wanted to viewer to see.  I also wanted the viewer to decide which emotion seems fit for that specific pose.

Most of my idea originated with my opportunity to study abroad in London. I was not only able to study art in a way I could never have imagined, but I was able to experience it in a different way altogether, through both London and Europe as a whole. I had the opportunity to also meet, work with, and befriend other students through my internship for an art gallery in central London. One of the other interns, in particular, happened to be a dancer from Venice, Italy. We had many great discussions about the art world, both through the eyes of visual art and through the eyes of performance art. We talked about how there is a sense of rhythm and movement/motion in both, and how we were able to learn further about how art can come together as one art form. With this notion, "Dance Sequence" was born.

Keegan Crose

"Books belong to their readers."

This is something John Green, my favorite author, often tells people when they ask him about certain things in his novels. Essentially, it boils down to the idea that you take from the story what you take from it. Different readers might have different interpretations based on their various life experiences, and that is okay.

This is an idea that has played a large part in my current work.

No matter my subject matter, each viewer will see my photographs a little differently than how I see them. As a result, "The Traveler" is intentionally ambiguous.

The photos tell a story about a character, but they don't show the entire story. Through the details, you are given a glimpse of who this person might be and where she might be going. By giving these details, my hope is that viewers will be able to connect the dots in their own way, a way that is maybe different from what I intended, but still valid.

Kelsey Dagen

Experiences shape who we are. We experience new events, happenings, and circumstances every day, however grand or minor. I feel that I am not the same person I was a year ago, and who I was a year ago was not the same as the Kelsey the year before that. These experiences can come in any shape or form, from a fantastic travel experience to the texture of a flower petal. However, I think that we sometimes don't notice these events or just simply pass them by. This is what I hope to achieve in my work: represent experiences that I believe can impact a person's life in one way or another.

If I had to pick a favorite media, it would be graphite. Most of my work focuses on the aspect of shading and the different values you can get from graphite pencils. I also like charcoal, ink, and spray paint for this reason. I like to see how real I can make objects look through shading and rough lines. It is capturing light on paper. This is my primary focus with the use of mixed media in black and white drawings.

Among impressionist artists, I'm inspired most by Pierre Auguste Renoir. He has a unique way of depicting people as young and almost cherub-like. The softness in his paintings is another aspect I appreciate within his work. I'm also inspired by Rodin's idea that "ugliness is a human invention." This idea inspires me because if an artist focuses on an individual that is "beautiful," it bores me. People equate beauty to perfection and that is unrealistic because no one is perfect. I also admire the way impressionists (like Renoir and Edgar Degas) achieve texture in their work. I like the rough, almost abstract way they represent the images they paint. This is what I hope to achieve in my current drawings; the rough, abstract-type way they depict their work.

Mark Lenczewski

The process of throwing clay on the wheel has always fascinated me. One particular aspect of throwing that has drawn me in more than others is the way that a pot can be collapsed or altered by the force of the wheel spinning around as the clay thins. This graceful transformation of clay on the wheel is what I am currently exploring in my work.

My work includes large blue stacked pots that are made up of collapsed segments that form a tall, flowing, and undulating pot. I am also breaking down the thrown form into a rhythmic and thin plane that is no longer a vessel. Both of these areas of work reflects a mix of the human hand, the rhythm of the wheel, and the natural grace of thin and bending clay. These works confront the viewer with the pure beauty of the form itself and draw attention to the unique nature of collapsed clay.

My work focuses on showing the viewer rhythm and motion that come from work thrown on the wheel. These large forms expose the beauty of work that is not symmetrical or traditionally well-crafted and "perfect." My work addresses the idea of control and loss of control when throwing. When a work collapses there is a loss of control, but the artist can control this collapse by stressing certain areas on a pot more than others. My work plays with the line between a controlled and an uncontrolled result, and this adds to the rhythm of the form that is both random and planned.

Meghan O'Brien

This series of images began to develop in my sophomore year when I discovered black and white 35 mm film and the rich details that can be captured with it. I explored the body up close and cropped focusing on the aesthetically pleasing values, tones, lines and shadows that light cast on the skin.

With this particular series of images I still want to convey the beauty of the body in its most simple form, but I also desire to comment on body image and society's view on how the female body should look. When we look at models, magazines, and celebrities we see this typical size of body, which is unnaturally skinny or digitally altered. It is something so unnaturally perfect that it almost seems fictional, but because we see it so much in society we believe that this is normal and something that we too can achieve. This idealized body causes much damage to a woman's perception of herself and others, as well as the male's view on females.

My series begins with the body out in nature before society came in and imposed these unrealistic characteristics. The figure is comfortable and relaxed, but as the story progresses, society's affect reaches for this form and begins to wrap it up in its views and leaves impressions and marks. This innocent body then begins to turn on itself, becoming stiff and uncomfortable, eventually being posed as we see in advertisements and fashion magazines. The final image is that of the human form succumbed to society, wrapped up tightly in the artificial and unnatural ideals imposed upon it.

Melissa Pinkowski

Portraits are used to convey and capture the essence of a person through an illustration. Animation takes these portraits to another level, breathing life into them, creating dimensionality and personality in the image. The movement of animation lends itself perfectly to shattering the "Beauty Myth," the idea that everyone's worth is based solely on appearances. I challenged this assumption and interviewed seven students from the College of Saint Benedict (affectionately known as Bennies), asking them to share their assessments of the definition of beauty, society's approach to outer appearances, and how they feel about their inner and outer beauty and ugliness.

Through the interviews, the women opened up about their insecurities, their struggles with the feminine ideal and their frustration with social constraints; how they did not know whether it was right or wrong to continue certain cultural cycles, for example makeup. These feelings of frustration inspired the images I find most compelling in the film. For example, I asked them how they felt when they were being gazed upon. They admitted that sometimes it made them feel empowered, like they were an image of beauty to be consumed, but sometimes it made them feel worse, as if all their insecurities were on display.

One woman likened the experience to being in a performance. When the spotlight shined on her-if she felt like she was perfect-having a million eyes looking at her was invigorating. However, one mistake under the harsh light, and everything turned unbearable. We are all an empty stage, trying to come up with the best act, the best version of ourselves to show the audience. We are caught between wanting to hide out of fear and wanting to feign perfection, all the while never wanting to show anyone what's going on backstage because it's messy, confusing, and sometimes embarrassing. However, the clutter that lives and hides in darkness backstage has as much beauty as the performance. Stories re-emerge from costumes past and props that look like clutter from afar, but when pieced together, they create fascinating narratives.

These intricacies and contradictions repeated and challenged my original question: what is beauty really? Many of the women argued that it was not a physical quality. It was a spirit someone possessed. At the start and end of the film, I attempt to show what this version of beauty would look like, if given a form. I came up with the idea of a nebula, a cloud of dust, made from destruction to create new sources of light. The potential for creation and destruction within a human, particularly within a woman, is what I deem as truly beautiful. Nothing is good or bad, black or white, but has to do with those two elements: creation and destruction. We cannot evolve without destroying something and that destruction leaves room for something new to form. In my art, I aim to possess and show beauty among darkness, seek out surrealism, and expose the extraordinary in the ordinary things. I believe there are moments of art in everything. The trick is to make an effort to seek them out, and they will appear, becoming too loud to ignore or survive without.

Meridith Grivna

Recently, I have been working with the idea of how people show themselves to others and how everyone else responds to this. This is important to me because for many years I would surprise people by telling them about the things I liked, and they would say, "I didn't peg you to be interested in something like that." I always wondered why that was. I want my work to get viewers to really think about why and how they make assumptions about people they don't know.

I created this piece to reflect on why and how we think it is strange when we see someone in a different context. An example of this is when you see a teacher every day in school, and then you see them in the grocery store. You know that it is normal for them to do this (they need to eat, too), but it still catches us off guard. Another example is when you know someone at work who is quiet, and then you see pictures of them at a heavy metal music concert. Our previous assumptions would tell us that this is very unlike them, even though they have liked that kind of music for years. But what about them told us that? How well do we actually know the people around us?

I have also been looking at the idea of how no matter what clothing we wear or events we experience, we are still the same person. I tried to depict this in this piece by painting different outfits over the same painting multiple times and keeping the face the same. The video animation is to view the layers underneath the final painting.

Nate Blenker

I choose to find out for myself who I want to be. The direction I want to take in my life makes me curious.  Why this person? What made this person? What are the symbolic purposes of dreams? What are these dreams trying to tell me? The dreams tell me what my desires are, what I am experiencing in my daily life, my relationships with people, and the emotions and feelings I am experiencing. I have not changed but I know I am not the same. The series of crafted images are based on personal dreams in a surreal state of mind. They are heavily influenced by emotional and personal experiences that have occurred in dreams that write my identity. The use of electronic recording of my personal dreams for a considerable amount of time allowed the discovery of patterns and repetition that occur within my dreams that can be encoded and used as identity. My work expresses a passionate reaction of experiences throughout most of my life. Images are gently projected for a short period of time to assimilate a dream in which some elements are remembered and the rest is shortly forgotten. From dreams, I can truly identify the kind they truly are and who I truly am.

Pa Dee Her

Art is an outlet, an expression, a form of communication, a way of self-discovery. I incorporate my point of view, thoughts, beliefs, questions, and interest with different media to create abstract artworks.

This year, being my last year here at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, my thoughts have been all over the place: the past, present, and future. I especially have been thinking about who I was when I first got here and who I will be when I leave. I realize I am not the same person I was when I first came here. I have changed in more ways than I realized, and it was because of the people in my life. They have shaped me in different ways: my family keeps me rooted to who I am, my friends challenge me to be a better person, and the rugby team gives me confidence to conquer anything.

For this artwork I took different silhouettes of my face and merged them with pictures of my family, friends, and rugby team using Photoshop. I then printed these digital negatives on transparent photo paper and transfer them to the cyanotype paper using UV lights. I decided to use cyanotype because I always found this technique an interesting type of alternative photography, and also the results it creates are how I thought best presented my final work. It creates an amazing blue that draws the eyes to the piece and the cloudy effect that is created gives the image a feel of memory to the artwork. I hope that the audience will see in these images as a window into who I am and the people who have affected me. Then reflect on those people who have also shaped them.

Sam Hentges

Throughout my career, I've enjoyed portraying nature through various mediums, all with high degrees of realism. Previous works have included detailed drawings and photography of fishing lures and equipment, abstract compilations of nature photography, and representational copies of master artists Michelangelo and John Whalley. Due to this focus on the representational, creating original works of art that reflect deep, raw emotion is something that, until now, had been missing in my portfolio.

I chose to express this emotion in the form of a duck. My interest in these bizarre animals hatched at a young age, growing up in a town where duck hunting is more important than weddings or birthdays. Spending a day from sunup to sundown staring at the sky for darting specks, I grew a fascination with waterfowl and their freedom to fly wherever they want. But with age and a diminishing innocence also came a fascination with how quickly such pure freedom could end with one controlled explosion.

This particular artwork is heavily influenced through my own personal experience and represents the universal concept of life and death. To portray this concept, I've drawn a duck in a realistic but unique way. Two different orientations will present the duck as either alive, happily enjoying dinner, or dead, floating belly-up. To this effect, something as simple as changing one's perspective acts as a means to give this animal life or effectively take it away. It is up to the viewer to make this decision.

December 9, 2013 - January 17, 2014
Gorecki Gallery & Gallery Lounge, CSB

BAC Gallery Information

Benedict and Dorothy Gorecki Gallery
and Gallery Lounge
Benedicta Arts Center, CSB


Summer gallery hours:

Monday - Friday: Noon - 6:00 p.m.

Academic year gallery hours
(beginning 8/26/13):
Monday - Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Sunday: Noon - 9:00 p.m.

For more information about exhibitions
in the BAC Galleries, call 320-363-5777.