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FGCU art seniors present final showcase

Nathan Pigott

There is no FGCU “house style.” Each student artist brings his or her own diverse and creative perspectives to each art piece, and that’s what makes the senior art showcases so special, according to Morgan T. Paine, a founding faculty member and associate professor of art at FGCU. Eighteen art students presented their senior showcases on Thursday, Dec. 7, to family, friends and professors who gathered to hear speeches from the seniors and view the work that they labored over throughout the semester.

“In some respects, it’s easier to teach skills and function as a training place than it is to do what we do, what I think we do, which is to educate,” Paine said in an address to the senior art students. “

When you have a set of skills, you apply them to the circumstance you find yourself in.

When you’re educated, you use the skills you have to respond to the circumstances that arise. And I think education is what’s going to provide the opportunity for you to continue to persist as artists.”

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The projects are graded by two separate small committees. The first committee reviews the research binders that students compiled for their projects. The second goes over the work each artist does. Artists then have to defend their projects, according to Spencer Gillespie, one of the seniors whose art was displayed in the showcase.

Gillespie’s project was called “Spencer” and was a piece on self exploration and discovery on three rectangular canvases.

He said his primary method is an additive, detractive process in which he creates a base of paint and words, then applies materials on top, then selectively removes the materials piece by piece.

The canvases included words like “alone” and “falling” that each conveyed emotion. Gillespie said he adds these words as inspiration comes upon him.

“Everything that I write here is basically stream of consciousness, so I just kind of go at it with a general idea of what I want to create that night and then I let the material dictate how I go about it,” Gillespie said. “So I may start writing one thing or one emotion and then it may lead me into another and then I have all my materials laid out and, depending on what I grab, what I feel like is right sometimes actually dictates the color of the piece or a lot of the marks that I draw.”

Tiana Smith, another senior art student featured in the showcase, focused her project on using multimedia to bring awareness to abuse, whether that be child abuse, domestic violence or police brutality.

Smith said her project was designed as a non- profit effort to bring abuse stories to light in whatever way victims want to tell their stories. So if someone wanted to tell their story through poetry, Smith would connect them with a poet and if they wanted to use dance, she would find a choreographer to put their story into dance.

“It’s just a way to raise awareness through art because I feel like art touches people in a different way than anything you hear or say because you connect to it on a more emotional level,” Smith said.

Julia Jacobs took her senior project in a different direction and created tattoo art based on the Japanese tebori tattoo method. Tebori artists use rods with needle ends to tattoo their subjects by hand. Jacobs said the old tebori masters would base their artwork on Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, so she took their art and modernized it for present-day tattooing. She researched the imagery and iconography and used them as references for her work.

Jacobs said the FGCU arts program helped her explore diverse artistic avenues she wouldn’t have known she was even interested in.

“At first I was skeptical, I’m not going to lie, because I wanted to go to an actual art school, but I loved it here,” Jacobs said. “I think they have a great program and it’s so well-rounded and there are so many different things that you can do here that I never would have thought I could do.”

Paine noted during his address that the arts program that these students’ skills and artistic intuition don’t just matter now during their graded showcases, their work could matter even going into the next century.

“Many of you in the audience recognize that most of these students were born in the 1990s, they have a reasonable chance to really live to see the year 2100. So, that’s the range that we’re talking about,” Paine said. “So we, as a an educational institution are responsible to be clever and brilliant in 2016, 2017, 2018, but they are responsible to be clever beyond that.”

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