Answering Four Different Questions, Four Different Ways

Displaying photographs, an installation, dress designs and abstract paintings, the Fall 2017 Baccalaureate Exhibition at the Memorial Union Gallery highlights the diverse talents of graduating North Dakota State students.

The exhibition is a biannual event that features the culminating work of graduating visual arts students. This fall, four students are displaying their work in the exhibit.

I think what’s really interesting is that each of the students have different questions,” said Anthony Faris, MU Gallery curator and coordinator. “They’re all within the same program, but their interests vary. Their passions vary. And the way that they want to communicate that are incredibly diverse, and I think that’s what’s the most exciting thing about the program.” 

Kelsey Hanson’s photographs capture life as a small-scale farmer, utilizing not only hanging photos but also images of the ground.

Kelsey Hanson’s exhibit, “The Sower,” is a photographic exploration of farming on a small scale. Without large equipment or acres of land, the farmers Hanson photographed have an intimate relationship with their land and labor.

“The images represent the attention and hard work it takes to maintain a productive plot of land,” Hanson said in her artist statement. “The farmers are engaged in all aspects of their land as they work on the ground, producing food with bent over backs to hand-produce crops in a sustainable way.”

Hanson’s photographs aren’t solely hung on walls, but also displayed on the floor. The photographer took photos of the ground the farmers worked to give viewers a glimpse at what farmers see in their everyday life.

Beside Hanson’s exhibit is the work of TraiCeline Pratt.

Pratt designed four dresses with the intention of pulling fashion into the realm of art. There’s also a dream-like quality to the artist’s work:

All of his dress designs are inspired by dreams,” Faris said. “Then (Pratt) goes through and creates them into an actual form, a garment.”

Jesse Lee Feist literally transplanted a design firm into the gallery space, complete with a desk, chairs and coffee mugs.

“You walk into his design firm, you see representations of past work that he’s done and then he has his desk over here, with his website and his work that he’s created for his company,” said Faris. “His company is named FOLDS, because he’s very interested in origami and he utilizes the origami buck, which is sort of a design of where to fold something has the origin for some of his designs.”

Emily Beaman’s acrylic paintings visually interpret language as power.

Finally, Emily Beaman’s abstract paintings interpret visually language and sound and places them in the context of how they affect systems of politics, values and belief systems.

This piece is called “Dog Whistle,” which is named after dog whistle politics,” Faris explained, gesturing to the fourth painting on the wall. “Or a dog whistle where you say something and it doesn’t resonate with most people, but those who know exactly what the meaning is, it speaks to them. She’s done this with abstracted forms, illuminated surfaces that sort of talk about the idea of truthfulness versus interpretation.”

As a show with four different artists, each trying to convey four different ideas or attitudes, Faris explained that one of the more difficult aspects of curating the show is making sure the pieces complement one another in the space.

“Each of them have an independent theme and idea that has to hold its own, but it also has to work in a space with others. It’s an independent show, but it also has to be considerate of how it works off of other works within the space,” he explained.

But the difference between these students’ works is what makes the exhibition, and the visual arts program at NDSU, unique and valuable.

You would expect very similar work to come out of a program, but when it comes down to this, this is very independent and professional practice,” Faris said. “This is the crux of their education here, after four years of studying here. This is a showcase of their ability to conceptualize and communicate visually with viewers in a very concise way.”

The 2017 Fall Baccalaureate exhibition is now on display at the MU Gallery, and will be until Dec. 6.

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