Senior art majors culminate Willamette career with museum showcase

The Willamette University and Salem communities were recently granted a night of celebration and opportunity to appreciate the fine arts as Willamette’s senior art majors introduced their final projects in an exhibition at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art.

The museum was buzzing with excitement during the exhibition’s opening event as the artists, their friends and families, and a wide spectrum of community members moseyed from piece to piece, chatting with the artists and mingling amongst fellow enthusiasts.

The annual exhibition represents a culmination of the artists’ development during their careers at Willamette, and features a diverse utilization of media, including painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, ceramics and mixed media.

The show also gives many of the students their first chance to participate in a major exhibition.

“It was a year-long commitment during which time we were expected to create something not only beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, but also to make something visually challenging,” says Max Stepan ’11, one of the featured artists.

Stepan showcased a series of nine sculpture pieces with names such as “phalaris arundarinace” and “partenocissus tricuspidata.” He calls the installment an “organic, plant-like combination of welded metal rods and wheel-thrown ceramic orbs.”

Another featured artist, Ellie Millen ’11, channeled her experience with what she deems “weirdly fantastical stories” by Neil Gaiman into a digital media presentation. She describes her presentation as transient, free, and “meant for an audience for whom ‘retweeting’ is a real word.”

Each artist included a self-reflective statement with their installment, which explains not only the artwork, but meditates on the process involved in its creation and the significance thereof.

“As a student, it is great to have this kind of exposure,” Stepan says. “Very rarely do we get the opportunity to show our work on a scale as large as this museum.”

The seniors will be keeping the exhibition alive with free Tuesday gallery talks at which they will discuss their projects. Students will speak each week between April 19 and May 3.

The exhibit is free for Willamette students and employees, open to the public, and will run until May 15.

For more information about the museum and a schedule of gallery talks, visit the Hallie Ford Museum of Art website.