By Maddy Majewski, Abigail Turner, Abbi Pflum & Kaylee Homerding
It’s time to draw a crowd.
Seniors at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay have been preparing to depart from their studies and enter the real world. For the senior artists, they have an opportunity to display their work from their last semester at the Senior Exhibition taking place at the Lawton Gallery in Theatre Hall.
Professor Minkyu Lee, Associate Professor in the UWGB Art Program, shared this is held every year in the spring at the end of the academic year. “It gives a rare opportunity to see a body of students’ work professionally presented,” Lee shared. “Senior Exhibitions require establishing a professional body of work, and this gives participants an opportunity to focus and develop a particular media. Many of our best students decide to be part of the show, and the portfolio they create takes them to the next step in their career after graduation.” Lee noted that he is proud of the students’ accomplishments and dedication to their work.
Students had the opportunity to meet with the curator to plan the exhibition in the fall semester and, throughout the year, met and planned their idea of how they wanted their work represented. The curator, Emma Hitzman, stated that this was a learning opportunity for the students. “The students do a majority of the work in presenting this exhibition, and I act as a guide to help them.” Hitzman is very excited for everyone to see the artwork the artists put forth. “It has been a few miserable years for everyone. COVID-19 had made a big impact on the students’ educational journey, but the work they put forth really shows their dedication and skills.”
Senior artist Emily Hansen shared her journey at UWGB and that she wasn’t originally going to school for art. “Around high school, I redirected my interests more into writing and planned to go to school to become an editor or screenwriter. A year into pursuing an English degree at UWGB, I took an introductory textile class and really fell back in love with visual arts.” Her studies took her to study abroad in Florence, Italy, where Hansen was exposed to art and history that impacted her a great deal, and shortly after, she changed her major. “History, storytelling, and my own life experiences inform my work. Passion is almost as important as patience when it comes to my process,” Hansen shared.
When asked about her exhibition debut, she shared she has not been in one yet, and stated, “I’ve shown individual pieces here and there in various juried exhibitions, but never a series of work in a group show like this. We’ve all had to make drastic changes and adjustments in our practices, having limited or completely lost access to studios and necessary equipment at various points in the pandemic. We’ve been able to make some impactful work despite the challenges we’ve been faced with, so I’m feeling very proud to be an art student right now.”
As she enters her post-undergraduate life, she shared she feels a bit scared, but she is excited as well, and explained, “with the senior show currently being up, it’s taken a lot of stress off my shoulders surrounding graduation. I’m currently looking into graduate programs to obtain an MFA within the next couple of years.”
Kaci Hess, another senior artist in the show, shared she had her eyes opened at UW-Sheboygan after taking an introduction to art class with Professor Tom Uebelherr. “I attended UW-Sheboygan for my first year of college because I still was unsure if I wanted to go to college and was unsure what I wanted to go for. Professor U. opened my eyes to art, and I was inspired and transferred to UWGB the next year and continued my art education.”
Over the past academic year, Hess worked on her art series titled “1721,” which is being displayed at the Senior Exhibition. She went on to share, “1721 is a series of screenprints using photo references of objects from within my childhood home. I created this series to help me hold onto the exact reality that was my childhood. As adults, we begin to lose sight of our memories, and our brain naturally picks and chooses which memories it wants to hold onto. It is important to me to remember the good, the bad, and the in-between.”
Hess has also not been in an exhibition before and enlightened, “I have never really created a series of works. I am incredibly proud of myself. I am also incredibly thankful for the opportunity at an education, to be surrounded by insanely talented people every day, and to have professors that encourage and push me to be my best.” When Hess returned to in-person classes after the pandemic, she was having a conversation with her professor, Lisa Wicka, about graduation. “I said to her, ‘I feel like I haven’t learned enough yet and wish I could keep learning.’ And she said to me, ‘why can’t you?’ That was a real eye-opening conversation for me. I decided two seconds later that I would continue for the fifth year, and that was the best decision I could have made.”
The 2022 Senior Exhibition will be held from April 9th through May 14th.