Spring Graduates Pour Emotion into Their Final FGCU Art Exhibits

Alexandra Cavalier, Assistant Assignment & Features Editor

The Spring Senior Project Exhibition opened on April 20. Attendees gathered in the Wasmer Gallery at the Arts Complex to view the 12 artworks.

This exhibition requires art majors to develop and present a coherent body of self-generated work. Students combine their knowledge of techniques and concepts while drawing on the research of historical and contemporary artists. 

Each senior art major in the exhibition designs and creates an installation that combines their technical skills and conceptual vision.

Sabrina Meads’ ceramic piece, titled “Overload,” highlighted the emotions and feelings caused by depression.

“I have struggled with depression since I was around ten years old. I’m 23 now so it’s just been a lot of ups and downs,” Meads said. “I definitely wanted to do a personal senior project because I wanted to do something very meaningful to myself.”

The piece included seven sculptures made from earthenware clay. Each sculpture was created with an extruder, a mechanical device that passes clay through a column under pressure and through a shape called a die. This process allowed Meads to manipulate the clay to her desired form.

Once the abstract sculptures were assembled, they were put into a kiln for an initial bisque firing. This firing allowed the greenware (unfired clay) to become porous and durable. 

Then, she created a series of 15 low-fire glazes that present different textures and colors. The glazes were applied in layers and fired multiple times with successive applications of glaze between each firing. 

Meads used multiple layers of glaze to express different layers of emotion. 

“With depression comes many different emotions, it’s not just sadness. It could be anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or unmotivated. There are just so many different symptoms you can have with depression and different emotions. It’s just very overwhelming, hence overload. So, I wanted to show that through those types of glazes,” she said. 

Through completing this project, Meads hopes she has raised awareness about the effects of living with depression.

“I’m not very open about it, but I’ve learned with this project to be more open about it. Through this project, I wanted to talk more about it and maybe even bring awareness to it and maybe help someone. That was my main reason behind wanting to do it (the project) on depression,” Meads said. “In the past, if I had done some form of art that related to depression, I did it on my look on it. Whereas this one, it was a very outside perspective of it. I wanted to show the pieces as they’re abstract. Depression is also abstract because it’s very different for everyone.” 

Maria Dominguez’s piece titled “It Ends with Me” was inspired by her need for healing.

Maria Dominguez

As a Mexican American woman and first-generation student, Dominguez attributes her perseverance and resilience to her parents who migrated from Mexico in the early 1990s. As a result of her parents’ sacrifices and suffering to give her and her siblings a better life, Dominguez holds a sense of responsibility to her family that carries additional sentiments of guilt and depression.

“I wanted to heal from the responsibility that I had being the child of an immigrant which meant making calls from my parents, speaking on their behalf, because of the language barrier and filling out paperwork,” Dominguez said. “Also, the harsh immigration policies. That was another thing that really affected my family and I had to help them out with that as well.” 

She decided to create her own altar, a tradition passed down through generations of Mexican women. The altar offers a sacred space that provides guidance and support. 

Her altar included personal items that represent her inner child, such as family photographs, childhood mementos, images of religious figures, candleholders, paper flowers, phones and legal forms. 

“Some things that I included were phones and they represent the phone calls that I had to make for my family from a very young age and there were photographs. These photographs were childhood photographs, they all contained children in them. The one that was very important to me was the one on top. That was a photograph of my grandma. She passed away and I wanted to dedicate a little part to her. I never got to meet her because of the whole immigration stuff. It was a great moment to have her on my altar and commemorate her memory,” she said. 

To bring people together, Dominguez hosted an event where she taught 15 people how to make the paper flowers that would go on her altar. Attendees included other art majors and members from FGCU’s Mexican American Student Alliance.

“I felt for a long time, I felt very alone. Not only with the issues of immigration but just as a Mexican American woman. So, I wanted to just bring people together, whether it be other Hispanics or anyone who wanted to learn about that stuff, I thought it was really important,” Dominguez said.

The title for her installation was inspired by Vianney Harelly, a Mexican American poet. 

“At first I had a couple of working titles, and they just didn’t feel right yet,” she said. “I was inspired by Vianney Harelly’s work, and she has a form where she’s saying like ‘the generational trauma ends here’ or ‘it ends with me,’ something along those lines. It’s the thought of breaking those generational traumas and curses, all the things that are weighing us down and not carrying it on to the next generation. That’s why it’s named “It Ends with Me,” because I want this to end here.” 

Attendees of the exhibition could find themselves relating to the artworks on display. 

“I feel like whatever work we make, especially the artwork that we made in our senior show, many people can relate to at least one of them,” Dominguez said. “I feel that it offers great commentary and healing to people around us. I feel like all the work that we do is about these times. There’s just so much going on and I feel that a lot of people are hurting mentally, emotionally, physically. The artwork really heals. Artwork always comforts in one way or another. Someone is always heard.”