entrance to sheehan gallery exhibit
All photos by Tara Graves.

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In their senior year, Whitman College’s studio art majors conclude their studies with a final thesis exhibition in the Sheehan Gallery. The year’s show, “A Piece of Cake,” will run through May 22, 2022. The sweet theme was decided by the 11 graduating students. In a group statement, the seniors explained the sentiments behind it: 

“Amongst ourselves, we’ve spent plenty of time acknowledging the things about creative work that are difficult or painful. The things that take too long, or feel too scary. We deserve, also, to savor the sweetness of making art. We’ve been allowed to create things from scratch, enjoying the tactile, time-shifting magic of working with our hands and minds. Perhaps even better, we’ve been allowed the joy of watching our own projects and those of our peers rise and grow, transforming from raw materials into complex and beautiful worlds of their own. That joy is baked into the show, and it is all the more worth appreciating in context of the uncertainty, distance, and loss that has marked these last few years.”

Below is a bite-sized look at “A Piece of Cake.” Want more? Take a virtual tour of the exhibit.

“And with all the betting, you’d forget how small a man you are” by Fi Black

From the artist’s statement:

“In arranging two larger-than-life beetles on a brick wall, my role as arbiter of the piece escalates a beetle fight into an immersive conflict that confronts the personal and social. Depending on the viewer’s perception of the wall’s plane, neither Dorcus Titanus (the black beetle) and the Dynastes Hercules (the green beetle) could be read as taking a clearly defined victory stance. By putting the two fighting beetles on a vertical plane, the dynamics are blurred, breaking from the horizontal plane of the fighting log.”

"Living Library," Elie Flanagan

From the artist’s statement:

“‘Living Library’ is a home for artists’ books, some presented as complete works and some waiting to be filled by those who encounter them. Artists’ books allow us to see the book as a conceptual and sculptural form, not necessarily being defined by a central spine and rectangular pages. Instead, a book can be a vessel for ideas: any means of putting thought into the world and giving to others. This ‘Living Library’ is alive because it actively gathers fragments of life and shares them over time. Through visitors’ participation, the space sustains life during the gallery show and beyond. At the end of the show, the no-longer-blank books will be ‘checked out’ and travel into the world, where they will accumulate experiences and signs of life before being mailed back into the final collection.”

“Aphros,” Morgan Greaton

From the artist’s statement:

“In this body of work, I am exploring the deep, porous and interconnected nature of all living things through the creation of a portal. This portal transports people into a conscious-altering environment where the soil, the trees, the rivers, the ocean, and the sky are alive. They speak a language of their own, a language that resides deep in the memory of every being ... I want people to feel like they are not taking in the landscape, but rather the landscape is alive and taking them in.”

 

“Más Doblado que una Carta de Amor: A LatinX Oral History,” Zoëmiel Henderson-Benevides

Zoemiel Henderson artwork

From the artist’s statement:

“Although each portrait is as different as the subjects they represent, they are linked in their abstraction of shared identities. I work with dreamscapes and imagined backgrounds in order to reference the complexities of the interview structure and the faulty memory that goes hand-in-hand with being human. The people with whom I work with are linked through their depth of feeling. In a world where LatinX people are stereotyped and otherized, this work urges the viewer to confront those prejudices by feeling their own humanness and the humanness of the people I represent through this work. It is deeply a love-letter to the people I have painted and also to the LatinX community as a whole.”

“Cloud Gazing,” Audrey Horner

audrey horner sculptures

From the artist’s statement:

“This installation consists of three human-sized towers of ceramic boulders of varying sizes, colors, and textures. Through the rhythm and repetition of these shapes and how they are stacked, I aim to refute the preciousness of the singular, and emphasize the reality that the beauty and meaning of a cloud is not diminished by its being amongst others. The balance of the towers emphasizes the ever-oscillating boundary between self and collective, while their vaguely figurative silhouettes allow for self-recognition within the embrace of that which is communal.”

“Koʻu Hoʻoilina ʻOhana,” Nainoa Kahale

From the artist’s statement:

“‘Koʻu Hoʻoilina ʻOhana’ (My Family Legacy) is an installation artwork that presents questions on cultural identity and legacy. Within the installation are CMYK print portraits of three family members who inspire me to develop a strong legacy of my own. Their portraits hang on a tree of Koa wood, a common material that has been used to create canoes, homes, and surfboards in Hawaii for generations. ... How will you be remembered? My answer begins with my home island Moloka’i and my ancestry, but your answer might be completely different. Through this installation I invite you to witness the legacy of my family and reflect upon the legacy you are building in your own life. Imagine your legacy.”

“in between,” Audrey Mace

From the artist’s statement:

“In this installation, I experiment with self-portraiture through a short film. I am interested in the affects produced by distortions of myself and how manipulations of time and space subvert our understanding of the every day. Using my face and body as resources at my disposal, my presence on screen is a stand-in for our place in reality. Rather than presenting reality as it is, this work represents liminal spaces that we endure. The realm of digital fantasy does not clarify the world but instead multiplies it. The self is ongoing, across time and space, familiar and not, singular and multiplied and fractured.”

“Moment of,” Hannah Marker

From the artist’s statement:

“In this work, I try to create a moment where you may be able to think about and find your own balance–whatever that means for you. I’ve sewn a quilt for you to duck under, and in it are examples of the important (and pocket-sized) objects and experiences which help me and close members of my personal community continue existing. I have included not only what I pursue, but the unique strategies that different people in my life seek and enact during distress. For each of us, do we pursue the absence of pain? Recollections of childhood? Safety? Control? Comfort? Do we create our mechanisms for wellbeing or chance upon them? It seems to vary. Here, I aim to physically shelter, inviting you to sit, feel fabrics beneath you and look at the fabrics above, listen to the murmur, and still yourself for a moment to breathe, contemplate, and be. How will you choose to exist in this moment?”

“Being Eve: Ephemeral Odes to Black Women,” Hannah Paul

From the artist’s statement:

“This installation seeks to create a portal into a space in which Black women are seen through a lens that does not focus on suffering. It is a reflective space, first for Black women and then for other viewers to think about and appreciate. This installation catches the viewer’s eyes with color and then forces them to see the beauty of Black women through my perspective. Black women are not owed the grace of being able to exist softly and immensely, which is why this space focuses on fragility, peace and color. This space calls to a new version of the Garden of Eden, in which the Black woman is Eve.”

“Legend of the Angel,” Ash Wells

Ash Wells artwork

From the artist’s statement:

“The world of Fihlios is a magical one, filled with elves, merfolk, dryads, dragons, and yes—humans too. ... Each character is a different creature inspired by ancient and contemporary stories from mythology, adapted to fit within this story which I have been developing for more than a decade. These characters are deeply important to me and my own development. Some of them have been with me and grown with me since I was 12 years old. ... Central to my work are themes of queer love, gender identity, mental illness, neurodivergence, and human relationships. I have personally experienced and struggled with each of these concepts. It is important to me that my artwork portrays and explores each of these complex ideas in a way that people can relate with, and I hope that my art makes other people like me feel welcomed and understood.”

“Dragtastica,” Lukas Žmuidzinas

Lukas Žmuidzinas  artwork

From the artist’s statement:

“Drag is one of the few art forms that is specifically for and by the LGBTQ+ community, and as such is rarely legitimized the contemporary art world. By framing drag as artwork within the academic context of my thesis, I am claiming that drag is a legitimate art form in its own right. Drag is a crucial artistic medium in contemporary art and all drag artists should be seen as contemporary artists.”