This has been a semester characterized by both disruption and perseverance. For our outgoing Fine Art seniors, this has meant that the capstone moments of their college experience have been, in ways, truncated. A tactile exhibition has become a virtual one. The physical rush of preparing for the exhibition transformed into a disorienting array of mediated tasks: emails, documenting, editing, and so on. This does not define the work presented here, only the presentation itself. What has not changed is the thoughtfulness with which the artists in this catalog approach their work, the skill with which it is made, and the pride with which we present their work to you.
The work by artist Jovanna Duff-Hinestroza falls somewhere between children’s story and alchemical textbook illustration. Employing animal symbolism and surreal natural amalgamations, DuffHinestroza explores emotional trauma, sometimes further shrouding the subject matter with ornate decorative flourishes. Duff-Hinestroza’s love of repetitive mark-making is clearly on display in both her delicate drawings and her meticulous gouache paintings. Her work feels plucked from an earlier time, employing aesthetic devices often associated with folk art and the occult illustration.
Bek Gaczewski has as much of an interest in written narrative as they do image creation. The relationship between the two can be fraught, with words overstating what an image might simply show, and with images lacking the clarity of text. Gaczewski’s watercolors come out as a composite of the two, where the paintings draw imagery and context from a series of ethereal stories conceived as text.
What results is a metaphorical visual language drawn from memory and imagination: forest fungi and Russian nesting dolls imply layers of veiling and deterioration., social anxiety manifests itself as living creatures that invade the body. Gaczewski portrays a contemplative internal struggle, a tiny war within, which is paralleled by the work’s modest scale and subdued colors.
Alannah Okonczak’s work, at first glance, appears deceptively simple. Placing herself in the position of the subject, her work is the most apparently autobiographical. She brazenly confronts issues around her body and her relationship with food. She does this using self-portraiture and paper-mache recreations of snack foods. Stylistically her work is often awkward in approach and composition – her color choices discordant. There are an innocence and openness present that is disarming and engaging. Is she being self-critical or celebratory? The work refuses to offer an easy answer to these questions, striving for a neutral position informed by both positivity and frank assessment and offering the viewer a complex collection of seemingly contradictory implications.
My thesis work has been about my relationship with my body and self-image. After some self-reflection, I created pieces that represented my insecurities that I have and want to start working on. I work primarily with papier-mâché and acrylics where I create canvases and sculptures with a limited color pallet. Each piece talks about some insecurities that I have, no matter how big or small it is. Whether that’s my insecurities about; my relationship with food, my appearance, and/or what others may say about me. My work can be seen as a response to the Body Positive Movement, which made me comfortable to make my work in order to confront my biggest insecurity; how I feel that my body is misshapen.
Jovanna Duff-Hinestroza is a New-York based illustrator specializing in gouache and graphite illustrations, her work exploring the human experience through flora and fauna imagery. Drawing inspiration from her favorite stories and experiences, personal and otherwise, storytelling lies at the heart of her work. Each piece is often packed with symbolic imagery, and each work in a series a unique piece of that intricately woven puzzle.
My thesis is broken into two separate series in one – a series of paintings and a series of drawings. The painted series, titled Everything Happens, is a collection of works loosely inspired by some of my favorite contemporary horror films. I decided to find and pull what I love so much about these films and use that to drive my work. These paintings explore themes of blind devotion, discomfort, the cycle of life, neutrality, and more. What I hoped to achieve with this series was a sense of duality, to tell an ugly story through traditionally beautiful imagery. This is where the decorative element so apparent in this series comes into play, its main function to mask that which is lurking just beneath the surface.
Rebecca “Bek” Gaczewski created a story-like structure for their work to follow that gives their art reason for existing and them a reason to create. It allows them the flexibility to work with anything they want to communicate and with any medium they desire to experiment with. Their collection of symbols and characters will help them continue to develop their work and communicate their stories that leave an impact on the viewers.
This collection, titled Sentence Fragment, consists of characters that just want their privacy. They each have their own level of openness and trust for the viewer. Their stories are driven by the order in which the viewer sees them as their titles are merely incomplete thoughts that form sentence fragments.