Diegesis: A SPU Illustration Show

Articulating judgment onto a show of student work is an exceedingly difficult task. Their skills are apparent and visibly displayed – as this group of artists have spent their years being taught technicalities and the in’s and out’s of creating work. Aside from this fact, creativity within this bunch is still budding and it is safe to say that these gifted individuals display that innovation is not quite yet grasped. The show ‘diegesis: noun: the time and place in which a story takes place features seven senior art students: Micah Ables, Julie Carlson, Brianne Hughes, Ashley Meissner, Emily Mogren, Bethenny Peter, and Elizabeth Simpson. All seven of these bright-eyed artists have created displays of two-dimensional storyboards depicting various worlds of whimsy. Collectively standing, each piece is placed in a world of it’s own, individually, each as fantastical as the next. The artists, although exhibiting clear stylistic differences, gravitate toward worlds full of emotional sentimentality – an idea not uncommon to the 20-something aspiring artist.

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With these pretences aside, Ables’ efforts standout amongst the rest, exhibiting more originality than his peers. His inspirations are clear; I am sensing a nod to the 1979 dystopian film Mad Max, but his work still seems to be relevant today in the midst of the societal obsession with apocalyptic futures. I will comment that his work does not give a complete feel of the story that he has begun to outline, which is understandable because his reference, the novel Dune by Frank Herbert, is a multi faceted commentary on politics, ecology, technology, and human emotion. However, because of his boiled down interpretation of setting and characters there seems to be a disconnect between the piece and its’ viewers.

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Digressing from the shortcomings of Ables’ work, I do commend him on the character illustrations that he has created – seeing as they are wholly unique and strike viewers with a sense that there is a deeper story to be told by each of them separately – one is left with a desire to learn more rather than dismissing them as merely illustration.

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Simpson, like Ables, pulls from a variety of external sources in her storyboard creation. The characters, although interesting, seem to have stepped out of the world of Atlantis and Treasure Planet, both Disney creations are even stories about finding one’s place in the world(s). Both are also stories of unlikely misfits joining together to obtain their goals, which is clearly outlined in Simpson’s artist statement. Aside from this oversight, the illustrations that she displays are visual appealing and draw the viewer to study each mechanical figure separately, for each are deeply intricate and highly detailed.

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An argument could be made that the artists mostly risk being too influenced by Disney, often making nods toward fairytale-esque ideas of freedom and opportunity, but I still find myself drawn toward the works of Bethany Peter. Despite my natural inclination to dismiss nostalgia, the more one observes the wide-eyed animals within Peter’s pieces the more likely one is to be transported to their days of finger paints and mid-afternoon naps. The flare Peter has for positivity and cheerful design is seemingly overwhelming and, at first glance, may be interpreted as satire on children’s cartoons to the hardened heart.

– Landry Desmond

Diegesis: A Story to be Told

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Diegesis, as defined by Seattle Pacific’s 2015 illustrators, is the time and place in which a story takes place. These seven artists fit that noun in their own way. Each individual has a unique story to share and do so through their compositions.

Aesthetically when you first walk into the SPU Art Center you’re welcomed by cool and soothing colors that chromatically fit  with each artist’s showcase. This square of color creates a nice boundary for each Senior Illustrator’s work and is immediately intriguing in the traditionally stark, white, space.

When beginning to walk around and focus in on each individual artist, we slowly begin to find the thematic element of story in each artist’s work and composition. Though this show holds on to the similarity in the theme of story, the work has a wide range of what stories are told. For example there are adorable and animated woodland creatures by Bethany Peter which look like they could be distant animal relatives of perhaps Bambi and Thumper. This is contrasted with the dramatic and extensive work by Ashley Meisner who has forty digital illustrations, a completed movie poster and over one hundred pages of her drama-filled screenplay that showcases this fanatical world of animated wolves. It is quite astounding the amount of work completed by these budding artists, though one cannot help but notice the lack of originality despite the great quantity of work. Playful, fun, and intriguing, though lacking in creativity. This combination connects us to disney’s Balto and characters from the classic Bambi. They need the memorable originality that other artists presented in the show.

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Michal Ables displays his memorable compositions which go beyond our tangible world to demonstrate an imaginative world and beings. His claim for his story is the concept of a “story though pictures.” Though initially his story is not as clear as other artists, there is something truly beautiful about his digital illustrations. Perhaps it is because he takes familiar images such as the Grand Canyon and juxtaposes it with an unfamiliar creature. One thing is certain, compared to all of the work in this showcase, what is lacking in quantity for Able’s work, he makes up in great originality. Depth, form, color and composition all are wonderful aspects to Able’s work making him the standout for this show.

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Emily Morgan takes an approach to a more familiar story. Her composition is one that relates to the elder figure helping to educate the young. In her visual narrative, Morgan takes the story of a grandmother showing her grandson how to create his own imaginative story through watercolor. Emily uses the gray color as imagery between the flat and boring world, to the colorful and incredible world that you can imagine. The story is heart-felt, simple, yet very memorable. Overall, the work is nicely executed as well.

Some artists had stories that lacked a sufficient plot. Julie Carlson has incredible illustrations for her book she is compiling however it was more difficult to piece together what the pictures were in relationship to without the text. Similarly, Elizabeth Simpson created the premise for a graphic novel about two misfit characters. Her work shows a more conceptual process and the beginnings of creation, however it is difficult for the audience to understand the story that Simpson wished to tell with her compositions.

Artist Brianne Huges in her artist statement includes this quote;

“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time… The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed … But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows.” ― George R.R. Martin

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Huges is both an author and illustrator and utilizes both to create her story. In her work she took the time to, with wonderful detail, illustrate each character for her book. Though there was less narrative, it was easy to get a sense for these characters and what their personalities might represent.

Overall, Diegesis exemplifies the meaning, though some stories had greater impact and were more memorable. Each artist had a story to tell and though some might be more distinct and clear, it was evident that each story was personal and had great meaning to each individual. Diegesis is a show I recommend you explore. Look beyond the images and realize the deeper story in which they all tell.

-Heather Dunmoyer

Innocence in Memories: Studio Art Senior Show- Heidi Humphrey and Esther Choe

These two senior artists are clearly passionate women who are creating to impact the world and satisfy their artistic drive. Heidi, an artist talented in all trades, focused on her photography for her show, photographing children in their deepest innocence. Esther’s guache paintings reminisced of her homes for her past to the present contrasting the hardness of the photographs to the softest of the paint. Together these women brought together a show of innocence and memories creating a place of comfort and home.

Heidi’s heart has always been loyal to showing the world and her love for people through photography. She focused on the innocence in the children by looking into their eyes, believing that the innocence can be somehow found there. Her photographs were centered on the walls around the size of 16”x24”, taking the attention of all viewers. The photographs were beautifully done, clearly Heidi has talent with the way cameras work. She is a clear artist with the camera and knows how to use them correctly. As much as I enjoyed the clear and colorful photographs, the way the children were captured did not show viewers the innocence of them through their eyes. The more I tried to see what Heidi wanted her viewers to see, I continued to only see flattened family photographs of children instead of a deeper understanding of the secrets children are holding from us. Even though Heidi’s vision did not come across to viewers, it is obvious that Heidi is talented with the camera, capturing others in a loving light.

Esther’s series of homes added color and playfulness to the hardness and reality of Heidi’s photographs. Esther was driven to create the series in homes due to her experience of living around the world as an army brat. From Korea, to California, to Washington, she reminisced of the memories made in these places using the one place that gave her comfort through the moves, her home. In every piece, the same house with slight changes was represented in a new setting. The main change that occurs is where exactly the house is, whether in between skyscrapers in Sol, Korea, in the Death Valley, or among the Puyallup fair. The colors are extremely playful and engagement sucking viewers into the pieces. As much as these are supposed to be representations of Esther’s memories, it seems more like a fantasy world and not a reality. The places are distorted and almost dreamlike in a flattened state. Esther could have put more depth visually into the piece, really throwing the viewers into her memories. The colors may not have been as realistic but Esther still created multiple worlds from her past. Esther opened up showing a playful world where she grew and began the artist who she is today.

Heidi and Esther’s art were both contrasting in medium but the overall curation of the exhibit was unbalanced and seemed less of a joint show. Heidi’s photographs dominated the gallery, while Esther’s pieces only covered one wall. There would have been a better balance if there were less photographs and Esther’s work more spread out instead of squished together in one space. As much as the curation was disproportionate, the women’s artwork shown through. Their passion and talent told stories of innocence and memories through guache paint and photographs of the present and past. Heidi and Esther, senior studio artists, showed their talents impacting the Seattle Pacific Art Center and their future careers as artists.

~Amanda Theel, Junior Art History Major

Shining A New Light on Old Ideas

Sabrina Chacon-Barajas and Kelsi McDonald’s show at the Seattle Pacific Art Center this past week was a breath of fresh air. The blank walls of the gallery were transformed into stories formed from the world around Chacon-Barajas and McDonald; both artists attempting to shine light on issues seen in today’s world.

Kelsi McDonald’s wood works display the life of a woman in today’s world, specifically dealing she has dealt with in her life. McDonald’s paintings on wood portray mannequins in different outfits with different surroundings. One work that stood out among the rest was a mannequin dressed in a wedding dress which displayed McDonald’s eye for detail, the dress expanding from the wood drawing the viewer in to look at the intracit detail of the bodice. Each work portrayed the mannequin in a different stage of a woman’s life. Another work contemplates if a woman can be both a mother and in the workplace; bringing to light the hardship that comes to those who face this dilemma  Another mannequin fit with gears where a heart is usually located displays the heart condition with which McDonald born was with. Each mannequin displays a different part of her life or the life of women around the world. While the story McDonald’s works tells isn’t one that is entirely new it does however tell it in a new form.

The well-lit works of McDonald distributed evenly across the walls filled the space completely creating a harmonized show. The colors found in the works poised well with the black and whites found in Chacon-Barajas’ works.

Sabrina Chacon-Barajas’ work shines a new light on the Hispanic community. The main piece featuring over a hundred illustrations displays the community which Chacon-Barajas has seen around her both here at school in Seattle and also back in Reno where Chacon-Barajas grew up. Each illustration portrays a person within the Hispanic community, each an individual and different from the other; no attribute is repeated. The people portrayed range from families, pastors, to even hipsters. Each piece is detailed and unique in every aspect giving to the view that so is the Hispanic community which Chacon-Barajas reveals. 

These illustrations pair well with the landscape works placed on the opposite wall displaying Chacon-Barajas varied skill in illustration. On the wall oposite of her illustrations Chacon-Barajas displays a piece based off of her mother journey from Mexico to Reno. These landscapes start with a small house placed in Mexico then zoom out to show a larger view of mountains which finally zoom back in to Chacon-Barajas’ house in Reno. This piece beautifully displays that journey which many Hispanics have taken. The work pairs nicely across from the illustrations giving the viewer the idea that although the may have the same background the Hispanic community is still unique.

Along with the drawings placed on the walls a sculpture stands in the gallery showing a dress placed on a black skeleton. The piece displays a beautiful quinceanera made of fallen petals from lilies. The piece adds to the show by placing a dash of color in her other wise black and white show.

The combined works of Sabrina Chacon-Barajas and Kelsi McDonald display an innovative way of telling stories that are not new to us but are shown in a new light. With their creative take on these issues the works bring a new look at the lives of women and the Hispanic community. Both seniors demonstrate their skill in the rendering of their works but that wasn’t all they showed, the works also displayed a new view of the old ideas.

Lizzie Anema

From Crayons to Concept: the Senior Design Students Showcase their Work and Personality

By Chelsea Elzinga

The Seattle Pacific Art Center exudes a sleek and professional art gallery persona more than ever this week: An oversized leather ottoman sits in the middle of the exhibition space and the showcased pieces lay graphically arranged against the walls, illuminated by dramatic spotlights.

It has designer written all over it.

Last night, the graduating design students at Seattle Pacific University opened their showcase exhibit From Crayons to Concept.  Seventeen student oeuvres are now displayed for the public to see, side-by-side, in horizontal panels along the gallery walls. Each panel is filled with artfully arranged print, web, and illustration work that includes examples of type magazines, package design, brand systems, promotional materials, event posters, album covers, info graphics, the list goes on. The pieces are truly eclectic and, although allowed limited room to breath, the space they do fill is lively and vibrant.

From Crayons to Concept, the Senior Design Showcase at the SPAC gallery

Given this potentially overcrowded space, the problem-solving nature of a designer is put to the test. With so much visual information vying for the viewer’s attention, competition is fierce not only within the individual’s panel but also between all seventeen panels.  At times, aesthetics are challenged.

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In an arrangement of multiple products with different personalities like those of Emily Dionne or Candice Nagel’s showcases, various color pallets and diverse line styles contest the cohesiveness of the grouping. Illustration-heavy portfolios like Tracey Ige’s and Mandy Hough’s feel more at home in the gallery setting than other arrangements because of their fine art leaning. Consistent color schemes and less diverse materials and medias give a strong sense of the designer’s personality in the work of Brie Milligton and Perry Azevedo’s portfolios.

part of Sam Cho’s 2012 London Olympics brand system

part of Lauren Krabbe’s 2012 London Olympics brand system

One over-arching design item consistent throughout the show is a rebranding system for the 2012 London Olympics. Banners, tickets, website design, subway posters, billboards, and other promotional materials have been thoughtfully and creatively redesigned by each senior. The vibrant cross-cultural and global themes of the Olympic games are knit into the visual culture of London with eye-catching results expressed in beautiful and diverse modes by the individual designers. The show as a whole gains in quality points with this noticeable thread that the viewer can easily recognize and engage.

As a whole the goal of From Crayon to Concept is to showcase the journey of a developing creative. The students’ visual histories are not as visible as the “Crayon” aspect of the show’s title indicates.  The connection to the past is sometimes emphasized in a personal photograph here or a child’s handwritten note there, as in the case of Willy Bravenec’s showcase, although the autobiographical and youthful memoirs are lacking in most designer’s collections.  While unaligned with the show’s title and the exhibit’s welcome message that claims “Each of us have taken time over the past few months to rummage through old photos, look at our visual histories, and observe not only what influenced us, but also what was inherent in who we are” it doesn’t at first appear so.

To be fair, however, the role of a designer is not to necessarily put one’s fingerprints all over one’s work in obvious and blatant ways. No, these graduating students have certainly recognized for themselves the intrinsic nature of the development of their personal mark in their work, even when working on the same product like the Olympics. This personal understanding makes for a dynamic and intriguing exhibit in which each creative mind has communicated his or her unique taste and conceptual perspective with the effortless appeal of a burgeoning designer.

Visit the show at http://crayonstoconcept.com/

A Sincere & Humble Proposal | Rachel Smith’s, Cristina Hernandez’s & Rachel Schrader’s “Immanence”

By Chelsea Terry

The art center has felt more open this week than it has in quite a while. I attribute the change to seniors Rachel Smith, Cristina Hernandez and Rachel Schrader’s senior show, Immanence. The gallery has been transformed. The three shows are designated to three corners of the space, leaving a wide area open to walk within and view the final show.

A humble artist’s statement prepares me for senior Rachel Smith’s finished product. Her words are inviting, referring to her reader as “dear viewer.” With this statement alone, she manages to create an atmosphere of calm and reverence, despite the many students milling about the lobby as I make my way through each artist’s work. In fact, all three artists have managed to create a similar feel with their art. Even beyond the parallel content of their pieces, these artists have created a space in which the viewer feels surrounded and comforted, despite the amount of white wall that peeks out from behind the mounted paintings. Smith’s installation is a large part of what has transformed the art center into a new and inviting space. The bells, or chimes, that descend from the ceiling, hung from thin thread, create a ceiling that shimmers and sways as you pass beneath it. Smith approaches her dear viewers with humility, imploring them to approach her work with an open mind and an open heart, and most of all, a willingness to listen for the inspiration that is so evident behind the work of her hands. A small tent, draped in white cloth, has been erected in the center of the gallery. The white cloth lies flowing out onto the floor in a train.

Smith calls this the bridal veil, symbolizing the church as the bride of Christ. This installation is meant to mirror the Tent of Meeting mentioned in the Bible as a space that believers who “desired to be breathed upon by God” would visit; I am intrigued by this concept, and the tent becomes to me something of the past, existing within our gallery as a reminder of God’s closeness to us, if we desire it. Smith’s entire portion of the show is permeated by sincerity, whether through the handwritten labels indicating various sections of Seattle, seen dangling from the chimes, or through the attention paid to the positioning of the curtains on the Tent of Meeting.

While Smith’s installations encourage interaction, Rachel Schrader’s mounted paintings encourage contemplation and observation. Her six pieces are spread out upon the wall, a single metal stool placed before them, inviting me to sit down. The colors and the shapes that Schrader has created on her canvases combine to form six very otherworldly and ethereal pieces.

 Schrader admits to a sort of divine interaction as the inspiration for her finished products, claiming that her work is imagery meant to be “infused with the immanence of God’s presence.” She wants her viewer to leave the space with feelings of peace, serenity and tranquility. The combination of light and dark within her work provides for a beautiful metaphor, which Schrader alludes to in her artis’t statement, of the challenges and the stress of everyday life, and how God can take those trials and tribulations and transform them, leading us back into the light.

I make my way to the third and final exhibit, featuring work by Cristina Hernandez. My eyes are immediately drawn to the small set of paintings mounted upon the wall; her beautiful depictions of waves are inspiring. The backbone of Hernandez’s concept has been the breaking down of barriers that separate us from God in today’s world. She uses the biblical story of the woman at the well as a powerful example of God’s power to overcome these barriers and to restore us back to Him. I take in her drawing of the woman; the composition is beautiful, as is the expression on the woman’s faith. The woman is characterized by a mixture of emotions, emotions that resonate deeply with me; however I fear that by attempting to identify these, I would detract from the power that Hernandez’s drawing holds for all viewers, who I believe are meant to form their own interpretations. The well installation is a lovely addition to the scene that Hernandez has set; it further exemplifies the parallel that she is illustrating between the Holy Spirit and the properties of water. The third panel of her set of waves shows a brick wall unable to stand against the wall of water that rushes against it, further proof of God’s faithfulness and power to deconstruct barriers.

I walk away from Smith’s, Schrader’s and Hernandez’s show Immanence feeling refreshed. The sincerity of their beliefs and their convictions was evident within their artworks; their concepts were conveyed and executed beautifully in the final product. They have managed to illustrate, paint, sculpt and simply create work that alludes to God’s immanence and reminds us of His everlasting love for us.

An Invitation for Reconciliation: Rachel Schrader’s Cristina Hernandez’s and Rachel Smith’s “Immanence”

At SPU we are so accustomed to talking about spirituality and faith that sometimes our encounters with the Presence can be diluted into something insincere. However, the current show in the Seattle Pacific Art Gallery, Immanence, serves as a catalyst to intensify an experience with God. Rachel Schrader, Cristina Hernandez, and Rachel Smith bring together 3 collections that invite us to encounter the works of the Holy Spirit. Abstract and realisic paintings, a portrait of the woman at the well, and a unique tent unite to call us to reconciliation and fellowship with God. Centered on the unavoidable immanence of God, the three artists successfully let us receive “something greater than what [they] have created by [their] own hands.”

The first thing to strike you when you walk into the gallery is Rachel Smith’s Tent of Meeting. In the Old Testament, the Tent of Meeting was meant to be a place of peace and holiness. Here, one can experience the breath of God; here,the immanence of God is undeniable.

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The curtains from Smith’s Tent of Meeting earnestly invite you to sit and experience holiness. Once inside, the sheerness of the curtains allows light to shine through, bringing peace. Though the space is  small and lacks privacy, when you sit inside your heart is called to repentance towards God. Instead of feeling the desire to be breathed upon by God, you are reassured of fellowship with Him.

Not only is Smith’s tent an invitation to push away our human thoughts, but it is a reminder of God’s boundless love for his people. The front curtain, hinting at the train of a wedding dress, amplifies this unconditional union between God and man. Though this reference is familiar to all of us, Smith’s work glows and creates a mysterious, monumental presence in the gallery space. Smith’s piece  suggests a very specific and genuine definition of reconciliation.  The piece is not  complex, but it is effective, and its message of God’s immanence is undeniable.

ImageAs you walk around the gallery space, the next thing you notice is the well in the corner and the portrait of a woman. Here, Cristina Hernandez makes a complimentary reference to the Samaritan woman who conversed with Jesus at the well. Jesus told this woman that he could give her “living water, ”eternal life, the only gift that could satisfy her desires. Experimenting with the parallels between water and the Holy Spirit, Hernandez illustrates this reconciliation between God and man. Through the woman’s portrait, the reconciliation between God and the sinful nature of man is illustrated successfully.

ImageEven through the “division, discord, prejudice, and hatred” that consumes our world, God remains faithful to the wicked. Hernandez’s portrait of the woman at the well meaningfully captures this hope for renewal. Evocative and detailed, the drawing of the woman at the well holds an expression of wonderment and adoration. One factor that detracts from this powerful statement is the perfectly rendered face. The women’s face is so flawless that it threatens to become bland. Interestingly, as you interact with this portrait, you are reminded of your own testimony. The immanence of God is something that cannot be ignored, as the Samaritan woman’s expression testifies. We cannot stop God from breaking down our barriers. The portrait offers an evangelical invitation to share the Samaritan woman’s relationship with Jesus.

Rachel Schrader offers paintings that display a combination of “abstraction and realism” to represent the immanence of God. Each piece represents the human struggle to find identity in the midst of tribulation. The layering of the paint highlights our human desire to be overpowered by the transcendence of God, the immanence of God. Schrader’s work overall shows her interest in the human struggle. 

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The paintings are distinctive for their rich, cloudy darkness at the edges,  representing human struggles and hardships. Through strong color contrasts, Schrader creates a strong visual metaphor for beauty through suffering. As the darkness disappears and light shines through, God’s nearness, God’s immanence is acknowledged.

However, while Schrader’s paintings appear mysterious and go some way toward expressing the mystery of God’s transcendence, there is something obvious about their methods. They are very sincere, but the viewer longs for added conceptual complexity.  Schrader does, however, succeed in inviting the viewer into a place of restoration. The artworks resonate with attentive viewers, calling us to humility and a recognition of our own brokenness.

Blending together personal experience, the pitfalls of human nature, and the closeness of God, the exhibition Immanence calls us to experience God’s simultaneous presence and transcendence. It issues an undeniable and particular invitation. We cannot help but share this personal testimony and fellowship with God through interaction with each of the works. For a moment, we reflect on God’s grace.

Esther Lee