By Simran P. Gupta
Simmons College strives not only to further the intellectual prowess of students but also to foster the artistic talent that abounds in much of the student body. Talents range from photography to graphic design to various types of painting and drawing.
With departments and majors that allow students to focus on developing their passion for a chosen art, as well as willing and eager faculty who mentor students in their development as artists, it’s no wonder that each semester the gallery is full of exceptional pieces of artwork.
This semester’s opening was buzzing with excitement and energy as works from the Fall 2015 semester classes and independent study projects were showcased. Walking through the different parts of the gallery, it was clear that a common theme was identity and expression, arguably one of the reasons that art and artistic expression exists. One could see the heart and soul that went into creating a drawing or composing and editing a photograph.
Works from the class “Color Studio” were particularly striking, as was a painting from the “Painting: Observation to Expression” class. Depicted was a man of color with headphones around his neck; behind him, the background was split into three parts: a jungle scene, a beach-like scene, and the lower half of a face with pink hair cascading down. Two quotes were on the painting as well: “Black and bloody hearts. Does that behead us all…” and “An individual turns on the news and all they hear is terror and theft. Homicide and hurt.”
A million different interpretations can be taken from this, but whichever one the viewer chooses, no doubt the image will provoke thought and questions. The artist was Helen Anthony, a senior science major who graduated in Fall 2015.
According to Professor Colleen Kiely, the assignment was based on a collage project, meant to culminate in a painting based on an aspect of the collage.
“Reconciling different sources and different ways of looking at things was at the heart,” Kiely said. In a conversation about the importance of context and culture in the interpretation of art, Kiely went on to say, “It’s all metaphor… Look at the visual structure of the piece and its visual relationship as you process it.”
No matter what background the viewer comes from, such a thought-provoking and topical piece will resound with anyone.
Photographers of all levels also had their work on display. Striking photographs from the “Poetry of Photography” class made it clear that even at a beginning level, talent abounds.
A black and white picture of a girl with insults and derogatory terms written across her back was striking, as were several portrait shots.
The “Documentary Photography” class also had their semester projects on display with accompanying Artist’s Statements to provide context. Topics were personal and ranged from the concept of home, belonging, adulthood and family to class and identity.
One project was an exploration of city alleys, simultaneously an exploration of fear and overcoming it. Another project addressed consumption and waste, while yet another discussed the concept of the “Poor College Student.”
All of the projects bared a piece of the artist’s soul and resonated with viewers in many ways. A combination of photographic techniques, lines, and color composition demonstrated the students’ mastery of the art to express personal topics.
Students and faculty appreciated the immense capabilities of student artists to make them feel, think, question, and love. Art is often hailed as a connecting tool in culture, and at Simmons, it is clear that art can truly bring a family together.