Senior art exhibition provides students an opportunity to express themselves

This+year%E2%80%99s+Winona+State+University+senior+art+exhibit+opened+for+viewing+on+April+25%2C+2022.+Artwork+is+on+display+in+Watkins+hall+and+Laird+Norton+Center+for+Art+%26+Design+for+students+to+view.+The+work+on+display+attempts+to+show+the+evolution+of+the+fourth-year+students%E2%80%99+art+and+design+design+abilites+in+the+program.

Joseph Eichele

This year’s Winona State University senior art exhibit opened for viewing on April 25, 2022. Artwork is on display in Watkins hall and Laird Norton Center for Art & Design for students to view. The work on display attempts to show the evolution of the fourth-year students’ art and design design abilities in the program.

Olivia Prondzinski, news reporter

Starting Monday, April 25, the Winona State University I-Design program presented their first in-person senior show in three years. The students’ work is showcased in two different buildings, Watkins Hall and the Laird Norton Center for Art & Design.

The I-Design department described in a press release all work on display was created by this school year’s senior class in an attempt to show the evolution of their design abilities in the program. The show consists of four groups, exemplifying students’ best, most creative and conceptually compelling abilities.

Assistant professor of art, Roger Boulay, said this exhibition is integrated into the syllabus for the senior seminar course and is a culmination of their studies during their years at Winona State.

“The students have to search for threads that their work has in common with the other students and then pull on those threads to create an umbrella theme that their work will fall under,” Boulay said.

Chun Lok Mah, associate professor of design, explained that students have certain limitations on what they can do for the exhibition because it allows them to further explore their creativity within their work.

“The students use artistic visual language to communicate and overcome the obstacle,” Mah said.

Fourth-year Lauren Mahnke with her work on display in Watkins Hall. The senior art pieces will continue to be on display daily from April 25 until May 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Fourth-year Lauren Mahnke with her work on display in Watkins Hall. The senior art pieces will continue to be on display daily from April 25 until May 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. (Joseph Eichele)

One of the four design exhibitions is titled “Introspection” created by students Annie Triechel, Morgan Sumter, Alicia Farrell and Makenna Meyers. “Introspection” is based off of social distancing and the excess amount of alone time everyone has experienced over the past couple years of the pandemic, leading people to self-reflect on their lives and the challenges faced internally. The group show will demonstrate the students’ individual discoveries of their mindsets and how they have embraced the journey towards self-worth, independence, confidence and authenticity.

The second exhibition has been titled “Moral[e]”, created by students Abbey Kline, Emma Brezina and Jack Baumert. The students said “Moral[e]” is about how the decision between right and wrong is unique, yet is a paralyzing truth into how one sees within the world around them. Their show was a way for each artist to reconcile the truths around them and foster the good through their own eyes.

“Phoenix Rising”, the third exhibition, was created by students Kennedy Pierre-Toussaint, May Hayes, Abby Trask, Becca Braun and Jordan Wuensch. “Phoenix Rising” reflects on the cycle of the phoenix, everyone is constantly challenged by the expectations of each of their own lives as growing individuals. For the show, each of the students have chosen to focus on one aspect of the phoenix’s life cycle; survival and work, healing biases and past experiences, relationships and community, self-actualization, optimization, transcendence and rebirth.

The fourth design exhibition created by the three Winona State students, Yitong Wang, Xin He and Kenneth Tham, is titled “Cyclepath”. The trio stated this exhibit is based off of the cycles that are a part of contemporary societal struggles. The cycles are the patterns and rhythms of daily life. “Cyclepath” will illustrate people who continually repeat cycles passed down from their interpersonal relations, predetermined culture and increasingly global society.

Tham, one of three creators of “Cyclepath”, is an I-Design major with an emphasis in conceptual illustration.

“I am going to be focusing on the cycle of consumerism, like fast fashion and how that affects our cultures and how we should try to be conscious of it and try to move away from it,” Tham explained.

Tham hopes through his artwork he can encourage people to be conscious shoppers and reduce consumerism.

Tham’s work will focus on the cycles of tradition, entitled “Youngition”. This element is about tradition and younger generations trying to keep up with them. Tham said this cycle will be about respecting cultural traditions, but still trying to progress into the future.

“She is looking at all these ways that younger people have ran out or are trying to grow away from their traditions but is also trying to keep a sense of respect about it,” Tham said. “Even if they want to progress past it, they still have to keep in mind what has allowed them to be there in the first place.”

The final element of the “Cyclepath” trio, executed by Wang, is centered around interpersonal relationships and emotional sensitivity. Tham said her work is about how everyone falls into cycles of wearing yourself out by not think- ing enough about yourself.

“All of the design students have their own identity and this is kind of our chance to merge things we care about,” Tham said. “Taking the personal experiences, we have and merging them with the skills we have learned to make an exhibition that’s really personal to us and releases the message we want to say.”

With the Laird Norton Center being under construction, the students have to adapt how they make and install their work. Boulay said this exhibition is great for the seniors because after they have a strong portfolio.

Assisstant professor of art, Roger Boulay, commented, “I’m so proud of the students, they’ve come a long way. Just trying to keep the big picture in mind, this exhibition could launch them into the world to do whatever they want.”
Assistant professor of art, Roger Boulay, commented, “I’m so proud of the students, they’ve come a long way. Just trying to keep the big picture in mind, this exhibition could launch them into the world to do whatever they want.” (Joseph Eichele)

“I’m proud of the students, they’ve come a long way. Just trying to keep the big picture in mind, this exhibition could launch them into the world to do whatever they want,” Boulay said.

Boulay thanks Winona State Student Senate for the funds for the gallery, and said the art department appreciates the support for the arts on campus.

Mah said some of the graduating design students have already received job offers and four students have won statewide design awards.

“I am very proud of their achievements. All of our students are working really hard and this shows they are not just trying to get it done,” Mah said.

The gallery will be open through May 6 and is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. There will also be an artist talk Thursday, April 28 at 4 p.m. on Winona State’s campus in the Science Laboratory Center Atrium.

For more information about the Senior Art and Design Exhibit, visit the event’s Facebook page.