It’s that time of the semester again — though substantially marked by the building uneasiness of finals and end-of-the-year papers, the month of November is also characterized by the exciting culmination of semester-long projects. While the senior drama majors prepare for their one-act studios to take the stage, the senior art majors set up their senior exhibitions. This past week, seniors Ana Norman and Sebastian Dombrowski revealed their exhibitions together in a joint gallery. Friends since their first semester at the University of Dallas, Norman and Dombrowski have been creating art side-by-side for over three years; it is easy to see how cooperative they have been one one another, and their respective exhibitions blend seamlessly into each other.
While both artists excel in drawing and painting, Norman devoted her senior exhibit to printmaking. Her collection of original works, titled “Old Folks,” features multi-layered black-line and color-blocked depictions of elderly figures completing various actions. What began as a singular work titled “Little Old Plant Lady” grew to encompass an entire body of similar depictions.
“I suppose the inspiration for my exhibition came from my proclivity for people-watching, along with the surplus presence of elderly individuals in my social sphere,” Norman said. “I’ve always been fascinated by old people and the way in which history appears etched in their skin. Gray hairs and wrinkles create a visual narrative between the person’s character and their life experience, which makes old people interesting subjects for sketchbook studies. It wasn’t particularly difficult to choose a theme for the show, as I found myself unintentionally focusing the majority of my work on old and homeless individuals.”
When asked about the medium of printmaking, Norman attributed her choice to its unique capabilities.
“[Printmaking requires the] artist to render a certain amount of control over the outcome of the work [due] to the erratic behavior of the matrix, or medium of print production,” Norman said. “It requires an element of humility from the artist in that she must relinquish control over the artwork which leaves room for the development of ideas and aesthetics.”
Dombroski, whose exhibited medium is painting, says that “Faces of Hope” was inspired by the song ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen.
“The Faces of Hope is meant to show the diversity, beauty and often times very personal figures people find as a source of comfort, unconditional love and support,” Dombrowski said. “ ‘Hallelujah’ is about a person being conquered by pain, sadness and loneliness, in a world where even hope in the Almighty is questioned, hence the verse ‘and it’s not a cry that you hear at night, it’s not somebody who’s seen the light, it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.’ The irony, of course, is that God is there and always will be.”
“The Faces of Hope” showcases this irony through different stories that emphasize the fact that hope is never misplaced, and that it can be found in even the smallest and most minute-seeming sources — from a silly ol’ bear to a lighthouse guiding a ship through a storm.
Dombrowski claims that the selections of Winnie the Pooh and the trusty dog as subjects were easy and came naturally, as both are symbolic of unconditional love and kindness; as for the lighthouse, it became the ultimate representation of God’s light in our lives.
The actual process of creating such paintings seemed painstaking at best, consisting of the physical composition of the canvases by hand, various newsprint paper sketches, the final etching of the figures on the canvas, solidifying their form in paint, and finally constructing the frames of the canvases. Dombrowski draws attention to the fact that his works were all painted primarily with a pallet knife, rather than a paintbrush, to achieve the maximum texture in each work, something that especially can be seen in “The Lighthouse Leading Home.”
“I technically started the process on the first day of class this semester, which was August 22,” Dombrowski said. “That’s when I actually began building and painting, but over the summer I was doing a lot of the decision making on what I would exactly paint and what size I would paint them. I pretty much had to finish all six paintings in five weeks though, which was an extremely short period of time. [It] meant a lot of really late nights and early mornings. It was of course all worth it, though, and it was an incredible feeling of accomplishment and love having all my friends, family and professors come see what I have been working on.”
Come see Dombrowski and Norman’s show, exhibited in the Art Village until Friday, Nov. 16.