On Friday, Dec. 1, the Lord Hall Gallery held an opening night for the annual Senior Art Exhibition. Titled “Polychrome,” it is the culmination of a studio art capstone course that hoped to teach students the essential professional practices needed to work in the visual arts after college.
The gallery is filled with 99 works produced by 16 students. In addition to creating the pieces, the students were in charge of every element involved in making the exhibit happen. While every piece told its own story, the exhibit as a whole seemed to celebrate the work done over the academic careers of the artists.
Polychrome means to be of many and various colors. Through the diversity in its pieces, the exhibit reflects its title. Organized by the flow of the visual content rather than by artists, the show melded the variety of artistic mediums and styles. The artists themselves have different concentrations and backgrounds, creating an exhibit which appeals to varying audiences.
The project helped Orie Lafevers, a fine arts student featured in the exhibit, understand how complex the process can be.
“It has opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many pieces that go into opening an exhibit. It’s insane how many people it took, and how many jobs there were. There were students in charge of lighting, floors, even feng shui,” Lafevers said.
While her pieces in the exhibition depict many natural and spiritual scenes, a lot of her art is inspired by her service in Afghanistan. When her battalion discovered her passion for the arts, she became the designated battalion artist. She was placed in charge of taking photographs, drawing commissions and designing tattoos for her fellow soldiers.
“Many of my best drawings were done in my spare time with a pencil and some printer paper,” Lafevers said.
Lafevers shared that the tranquility and nature found in her exhibit pieces is inspired by her grandmother.
“My grandmother, Pat Thurston, does a lot of Maine landscapes in different mediums. She has always supported me in art and she is the one who taught me what to strive toward,” Lafevers said.
While Lafevers’ passion for art is shared by her family, for many art students it’s not uncommon to be questioned about their chosen field. Jim Linehan, professor of art and the official curator of the exhibit, believes that now more than ever is the time to study art.
“There is more need for artists today because of the digital age,” Linehan said. “Almost every business has to have some sort of art department, and there is such a variety in opportunity.”
Linehan has had many phases in his career as an artist. While teaching art for 40 years, 35 of which he taught at University of Maine, Linehan’s focus on personal art has varied.
“You’ll have seasonal moments in your career,” Linehan said.
Linehan hopes that this capstone will prepare his students for the next phase of their careers. He believes that an artist is also a small business person. While the students have spent the past few years refining their work, this course aims to equip them with the knowledge needed to further their careers.
“It’s absolutely essential to have this kind of experience. Some will go to grad school, some will be artists, some will work in museums, but this is the heart of it all. The course answers the question ‘Ok big shot, now what?’” Linehan said.
The exhibit will be on display until Feb. 2, 2018 but the experience will stay with the students involved.
“Students need to have confidence, and through this project everything begins to seem real,” Linehan said. “This class helps them see themselves as professionals.”
The exhibition is free and open to the public. The Lord Hall gallery is wheelchair accessible, and open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.