Living in a time when virtual events are a common part of everyday lives, a group of Texas State art students working on their thesis teamed up to display their latest work in a new virtual art exhibit.
In late September, nine thesis students in the School of Art and Design were grouped together and challenged with the task of organizing a thesis exhibit as part of their Professional Practice and Portfolio course.
“It’s a time where people aren't really attending school, so we don't have access to studios and workshops like we normally would,” said Bruce Wylie, exhibit director and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) senior with a concentration in painting. “We don't get one-on-one face time as much as professors...as artists, it's tough because we don't get to see a lot of people's work live and in the raw—that's what we're used to.”
With the students still adjusting to working in an isolated environment, the exhibit's theme of ‘Identity’ suits today’s remote reality, as it allows the artists to reflect on their own passions and surroundings.
“I feel like it’s really given me a time to reflect on myself, and be surrounded by my work and help me see my vision more and where I’m trying to get going, or where I’m headed,” said Sydney Guzman, co-curator and a BFA senior with a concentration in painting. “I feel like this solitude has helped me because it’s solidified my passion for [art].”
Although this year's thesis exhibition differs from previous years, members continue to look on the bright side as they consider the accessibility that comes with hosting a virtual exhibit.
“The fact that it can reach a wider audience, that’s a huge benefit,” said Jada Webb, exhibition member and a BFA senior with a concentration in drawing. “Those even thinking about coming to Texas State can see this gallery and say, ‘Oh wow, so this is the work coming out of this school’, and be like, ‘Wow, maybe this is the place I want to go’, and I think that’s one of the many benefits of having it be online. Just reaching people that technically would maybe never even see this work in the first place.”
The project first made headway earlier this semester as students gradually worked to create pieces reflecting the exhibit’s theme.
“There’s a lot of work that has to be put into this,” Guzman said. “Whether it’s photographing your own work and making sure the lighting is the best, editing everything, writing your artist statement, figuring out your own personalized themes and what you’re trying to communicate to the world. So I feel like it was very eye-opening and realizing all the hard stuff that we have to put together.”
Wylie says with social distancing constraints, working on the exhibition alongside eight other members offers a great sense of community.
“I think it's brought us together. One of the toughest things in the art community is building an art community,” Wylie said. “The way that I look at it now is I've had more face time with eight other students that otherwise even going into class I may have never had before, and so these are the relationships that we built that are going to help us be successful as artists in the future. And I look at it as a positive even though it was a challenge.”
Relying on their art as a form of expression and communication, Guzman hopes viewers find some relation and understanding in the art showcased.
“All of the artwork that we are making, they all have a story, and yes it is personal because everybody has their own life experiences, but in a sense, putting it all out there may be in hopes of having somebody else relate to it,” Guzman said. “I feel like it’s just supposed to help people realize that we’re all connected even though we are all going through our own personalized experiences.”
The exhibition includes three to five pieces per artist and various mediums of art including paintings, photographs and digital animations. The exhibit's website launched Dec. 2 and will be on display for a year.