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Going out with a BFA Studio Show

By Van Faust-Stephenson | vfauststephenso@radford.edu

It is the end of the semester, and that means senior graduation is right around the corner; however, this does not say that these graduating seniors are not leaving one last thing to have us remember them by.

Six of the graduating students in the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) are currently showcasing their works one last time at the Covington Center. These works are all from different styles, inspirations, and mediums.

It is truly a culmination of nearly every type of show the Arts program has put on in the past year.

Rachel Hawkins brings her style of Acrylic on Canvas to the table in five different “stream of consciousness” works. Her works are best described as landscapes of black with colors streaking through, as seen from a top-down perspective.

Hawkins claims she creates her works with no plans beforehand, merely having them represent her current state of mind. “The clusters of emotional response to these experiences invite the viewer to explore both the whole and the sum of the parts,” her artistic statement reads.

The best way to describe her art is actually to compare her pieces to one another.

For instance, Bewildered is a piece reminiscent of the representation of outer space seen in TV and movies, filled with eternal emptiness and, for some reason, sprays of color with no natural source. Meanwhile, Unbalanced is mostly black to its right side, yet the left is filled to the brim with color; as well, the canvas is bumpier and less smooth than the others.

More of Hawkins’ work can be found at rachelhawkinsstudios.com or on her Instagram @racheldaniellehawkins.

Cheyenne Taylor’s work, in the style of Oil on Canvas, provides “… a sense of destruction and present the inevitability of decay,” as her artist statement says.

Taylor’s work is based on the use of skulls, something that I had noticed in her work from across the room. Why use skulls though? “I use skulls as a symbol to represent the annihilation of the Native American people… because of my Cherokee lineage.”

One would think that reusing the motif of skulls would get old and uninspired very quickly, but as her work proves, this is not the case.

Swamp Remnants, the first piece of her work that I noticed, depicts an array of skulls burning and possibly even dissolving in gasoline, some of their features missing.

Overcast shows what seems to be tortured souls, some apparently still screaming, ascending toward the heavens.

Moreover, All in a Row, to me at least, appears stylized similarly to the art of Día de Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, though simplified. The painting depicts eight skulls looking around the canvas in various directions while a ninth skull in the center is turned entirely away from the viewer.

Taylor’s work can be found at cheyennetaylor.com.

Hayden King’s work brings to mind a more industrial tone. King’s art focuses on strict and clear lines, curves, and shapes, with few things being non-distinct or having a sketch-like look. This style is conveyed through the use of acrylic, graphite, and wood panel in all his works.

Despite the industrial feel, King’s artist statement explains the works are reminiscent of childhood creativity and escape. “I am and always have been a builder.”

There is a strange recurring pattern in all of his works: a rope pulling something up. For instance, in his work No Girls Allowed, a bucket filled with arrows is being pulled up by a rope connected to seemingly nothing. The background is filled with half-finished construction plans and outlines of what seems to be an office building, helping the industrial tone.

Meanwhile, with Volleyball Net, stray strands at the end of a rope are tied to a crow’s beak, holding up what seems to be an egg. It seems oddly morbid and uncomfortable, as the crow is clearly in distress either from the rope pulling at it or maybe trying to save the egg. The lack of comfort continues in the background, where the building, this scene takes place in front of, seems to be falling.

King’s work can be found at hadenking.com.

Annie Dongoski’s photography is something to be marveled. From the careful framing of her photos to the choice of using film over digital to complement “the old, worn down look of the buildings” she photographs, it is obvious she puts thought and effort into every aspect of her work.

Possibly the only thing more boring than watching paint dry is watching paint peel, but Dongoski manages to make even that interesting. Her work Cloud Street is merely a photo of an empty door form an abandoned building with its paint peeling off. It is all framed, lit, and shot so perfectly; it makes you think of the beauty of abandonment.

A personal favorite of mine, Route 55 #2 also showcases this beautiful abandonment. Vines that have dragged down a road sign are now slowly advancing their way up a wooden phone poll while a house to the side is falling apart. If it were not for knowing that this was taken from real life, it would seem like a scene from the post-apocalypse.

More of Dongoski’s work can be found on her Facebook and Instagram @anniedongoskiphotography.

I mistook Burke Staunton’s pieces for a small butterfly collection in the middle of the art museum. Instead, the section was Butterfly Brooches, an example of Staunton’s nature-inspired jewelry. The piece is surprisingly life-like, despite the fact that the color is only painted on.

I do not usually wear hair accessories aside from a hairband, but these look so good that I would try wearing one if they were available for purchase.

Busy Bee is a small collection of a bee-shaped ring, two bee-shaped earrings, and a large necklace with honeycombs on it … and bees on those. Unfortunately, the necklace would seem uncomfortable to wear, as the centerpiece of it is large and seemingly heavy, the necklace part of it being made of rustic chains and being small by itself.

Though it would still be a beautiful decoration to have around.

Moreover, then there is the Swallowtail Statement Set which is an absolutely beautiful collection of jewelry similar to the one above but based off of the Swallowtail Butterfly instead of bees.

All three have a gem-like design meant to represent a swallowtail’s wings that are simply and ingeniously just photographs under glass. Also, then there is the necklace, with three of these designs as its centerpiece and the necklace itself being made of what seems to be plastic, but also formed in the shape of a swallowtail’s wings.

Finally, Carol Ann Lawrence brings her stoneworks to the show; though her artistic statement claims they are more sculptural than functional. As well, her works are said to have masculine and feminine designs.

This can be seen in her work Penis Pot and Four Cute Butt, which is only just a teapot with a somewhat phallic design for its spout. The ‘Four Cute Butt’ mentioned above are merely the cups the tea is supposed to go to. Though, while the penis pot seems functional, the four cute butts look a bit dented.

For the other sex, there is the Goddess Vase, a porcelain vase that retains its structure until the top, where it against three outer loops, slowly closing on the center and possibly meant to represent a nipple. Interestingly, the vase is used on Lawrence’s business card.

More of Lawrence’s work can be found at carolannstoneworks.com, her Facebook at Carol Ann Stoneworks, and her Instagram @Carol_Ann_Stoneworks.

All these works are obviously lovingly crafted, and while they will not be showcased at Radford again, I cannot wait to see where these artist’s future ventures take them.

Photo Credit: (Radford Univerisity)

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