Glimmers of Gold in a Gray Gallery: Senior Art Show Highlights Student Creativity

Written by Katarzyna Ignatik

From the gray carpet floor and walls pop the golden-peach sunrises, bold lines, and colorful oils. Walk around the room, and you’ll see a variety of project types, from class assignments to more personal endeavors. Stop to admire “Moods in Crimson,” a still life painted twice—once in pinkish tones and once in red. Flip through a self-bound and self-designed paperback. And marvel at the play of light in photographs of lace curtains, fog, and dusty backyard shed windows.

This exhibit, titled “Fool’s Gold,” was only one of the end-of-the-year student art shows presented by Hillsdale’s graduating art majors. Seniors take turns sharing the Daughtrey Gallery in the Fine Arts
Building to display some of their best work. Often, the students featured together specialize in different mediums, as did the ones in “Fool’s Gold”: Makenzie Self prefers oil painting, Zane Miller does graphic design, and Emilia Heider’s gift is in photography. Yet the exhibit is also a place to show off other projects besides those in preferred mediums. For example, while none of them specialize in drawing, all the artists in this show displayed penciled self-portraits.

Hillsdale’s student art shows highlight the artists and encourage community among visitors. Outside the gallery, homemade scones and other refreshments provide a point around which students, family, and professors mingle. In the middle of the artwork stands a wall with the artist portraits and their artist statements underneath. Under each portrait lie guest books, in which admiring visitors, family, and friends write notes.

Emilia, with a chic, umber artist’s smock pulled over her slacks and turtleneck, wanders around the gallery making conversation. Seeing visitors to her reception makes her glad. She says, “I’m very happy that I get to share these photos, these times, these moments that I’ve captured with everyone, because that’s really what it’s about. The photo is really nothing unless you have someone to look at it.”
Zane, who spends hours every week designing promotional materials and publications for the College, knows this well, as every design job must catch the eye of the viewer. “Clean lines and balance have always intrigued me,” he wrote in his artist statement.

“The act of setting up the exhibit, seeing it all come together, and witnessing a couple hundred people come through the gallery during the reception was thrilling,” Zane says. “I knew that I had accomplished something, but it wasn’t until I saw the work of the last five years all together in one space that I truly processed it. My time at Hillsdale honed my skills in a tangible way that I just didn’t notice when jumping from one project to the next.”

Zane says he could do graphic design all day, and he hopes to build a career in design. For her part, Emilia is looking to teach art to middle schoolers. However, art fulfills for them a greater need than just a career possibility.

“Even if I do something other than teach art, I’ll still make art,” Emilia says, gesturing toward her photograph display. “I can’t not do it.”

Katarzyna IgnatikKatarzyna Ignatik, ’20, studies English. She strives to live optimistically and deeply, with a healthy sense of the hilarity of life. Katarzyna believes that the world should have more genuine community, witty conversation, and appreciation for pleasant little things like green grass and bread pudding.

Published in June 2019