By Paulina Herran
In an effort to prepare University of Dallas senior artists for their Senior Exhibition, the art department hosted the 2014 Senior Synopsis last week. This year’s show displayed the work of art history majors Nicole Stevens and Paul Domalakes, as well as works by art majors Sarah Reape, Kathleen Ramirez, Alex Cerza, Johnny Defilippis and Frances Thrush.
“The synopsis show was started many years ago as a way for the senior studio art majors to see the work they are producing in an exhibition space, meet with faculty to receive feedback and to understand what changes need to be addressed as they ready for the senior show,” art department chair Phillip Shore said.
Taking place during the week of midterms, most of the artists admitted that it was a stress-filled experience but one that was well worth it.
“That’s what Senior Synopsis is all about: figuring out what works and what doesn’t, learning from the experience, responding to problems, and following through with our work to the very end,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez’s contributions to the exhibit were three stone lithographs called “Forgotten Between Memories,” “Ideas That Changed My Mind” and “Unwinding Thoughts,” which included 79 optical fibers and LEDs.
“My whole concept for my senior show revolves around my motto: ‘I like light, but I like it better in the dark,’” Ramirez said.
The artists worked with their own inspirations and intentions rather than focusing on one cohesive theme, which allowed the viewers in the gallery to see the unique experiences of each artist.
“I am trying to communicate – and will do so more fully when all five works are hanging and can be seen together – the journey that it has been for me to not only recognize but become comfortable with being an individual which is, I feel, something that everyone goes through and really comes to a head while at the university,” Thrush said. With this intention in mind, Thrush discussed her sculpture, titled “’I’ and ‘Myself’ are Islands.” “The title for this work specifically comes from the idea that realization or understanding of individuality cannot be present without the notion of all those things that differentiate what it is to be ‘I’ or ‘Myself’ from when anyone else uses those same terms in reference to themselves,” she said. “It’s kind of the idea that we are all our own islands.”
Working in different mediums and with different subject matter, the challenges each artist faced also differed greatly.
“The hardest part of my research is becoming Russian,” said Domalakes, who introduced his thesis titled “Profanity and Sacred: The Evolution of the Russian Iconic style, from Suprematism to Contemporary Art.”
“To truly understand Russian art, especially contemporary art, I have to understand what it is to be a Russian. I have to understand the laws they live under, the movies they watch, the music they listen to, and the art they look at.”
Despite the challenges, all of the artists at the exhibition who could be reached for comment expressed positive comments on their experience in the art program and their hopes for Senior Exhibition.
“The experience the art department has provided has been invaluable and truly prepared me for all aspects of taking a concept, making [it] exist in physical space, and presenting it, which is something I am very grateful for,” Thrush said.
Defilippis said he was inspired by his overall education at UD. In the spring he will have an exhibition depicting Jesus Christ, a theme different from his two oil-on-canvas self-portraits at Senior Synopsis.
“They’ve extremely encouraged me to be more Catholic as an artist and to put more thought — not from just an original aspect of just standing on my own thoughts — but to use others’ wisdom such as the philosophers and especially the theologians, which we have a great many of here,” Defilippis said. “What I’m doing for the future is a show on The Passion, and not my self-portraits, which will be leading and focusing on Christ’s suffering and humanity.”
Stevens’ thesis is titled “The Impact of Robert Henri on American Realism and Popular Culture in the Work of Edward Hopper and Norman Rockwell.” She noted that because art students study “everything from Greek art, history, philosophy to Contemporary Art,” their studies encourage a holistic approach to artists and their impacts.
However, she said she hopes to see people grow even more over the years in their subjects and inspirations.
“I would love to see people begin to think out of the box, even more so than they do now,” Stevens said. “The beautiful thing about UD is that we have a wide ranging classical education, but sometimes we forget who is contemporaneous with whom.” In anticipation of the Senior Exhibition in the spring, the artists are hoping to pique the interest of the UD community in their work and that of the art department.
“This is always an exciting opportunity for the students and faculty alike as well as in giving the UD community a preview of what will be coming up in the spring,” Shore said. “The senior year is one of significant growth for the art students.”