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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm
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Extraordinary work in extraordinary times

Clara Dingle. blobs that are alive and taking over. Fabric and Mylar. Photo by Shabana Gupta.

Twenty-eight students submitted work to this year’s Bachelor of Arts Exhibition (BAX). With the choice to submit one or two pieces for display, the BAX online exhibit showcases 50 works of art by Grinnell third and fourth years. The pieces cover a range of mediums, including sculpture, photography, digital media, paintings on canvas and fiber art.

To accommodate the socially-distanced school year, the Studio Art Student Education Policy Committee (SEPC) has been planning BAX since the fall with two key components in mind: an in-person exhibition at the Grinnell College Museum of Art (GCMoA), and a virtual exhibit that can be accessed by Grinnellians around the world. As several students who submitted art to the exhibition are not in Grinnell or could not mail their pieces to the museum, only about half of the exhibition’s art is currently on display in the physical gallery.

“BAX is nice because it’s like a real institution,” said Sophie Doddimeade `21, a member of the Studio Art SEPC. “It’s one of the only times that a lot of people are ever going to have their work shown in a real gallery and be able to have other people see it, especially for non-art majors.”

Guhn Lee (Tommy). forms of being. Acrylic on Clay. Photo by Shabana Gupta.

BAX officially opened on Friday, April 23 with a virtual event hosted on Webex. Traditionally held in the GCMoA gallery, the streamed event coincided with the exhibition website going live.

The online gallery includes each piece of submitted art, all documented by the student artist themselves.

“Thinking about documented work seems more important this year, right, because the work will be shown on the website and it will also be judged off of the virtual documentation. So, in a way everything has its own digital aspect this year,” said Hannah Taylor `21, another member of the Studio Art SEPC.

As has become commonplace in the virtual landscape of the last year, Friday’s event broke from tradition and adapted to technical difficulties with an accepting ease. Leslie Wright, director of GCMoA, walked the virtual attendees through the deserted gallery, directing her computer’s camera to each exhibited piece of art in turn. Widely spaced across the white walls, Wright commended the student artist behind each work of art by name, giving the audience a taste of the pieces on display in the gallery before the announcement of awards began.

Each year, the SEPC selects a working artist from around the country to act as juror for the exhibition. “When we’re choosing our juror,” said Taylor, “we’re looking for someone who is not only committed to their own work in their own life but also committed to giving students feedback on their work.” Students could sign up for a short one-on-one virtual “studio visit” with the juror to discuss their portfolio and receive more personal comments and advice.

This year, the SEPC brought on JM Culver as juror: a contemporary figurative artist and former gallery director and curator. Before announcing the award winners, Culver expressed surprise at the diversity of student work exhibited. While the art explored a range of themes and mediums, she described her sense of a common tie between the pieces and their reflection of the world during a pandemic. “There’s this heightened emotional awareness and I feel like all of the works really approach the human condition and are very relevant to today’s society,” she said.

Culver presented seven awards, ranging from Best in Show to honors in a specific medium. With each award she announced, Culver commented on her own perspective of the piece and what she found most compelling in the artist’s work.

It’s one of the only times that a lot of people are ever going to have their work shown in a real gallery and be able to have other people see it, especially for non-art majors. – Sophie Doddimeade `21, a member of the Studio Art SEPC

Raymond Martinez `21 received the Henley Best in Show Prize with, “The Waiting Game – Video (with sound).” The Tammy Zywicki Memorial Prize in Photography went to Tommy Lee `22 for his piece titled, “dépaysement.” Caroline Shea `22 was honored for their piece, “Legs,” with the Louis Glenn Zirkle Memorial Prize in Sculpture. The first Juror’s Merit Henley Prize went to Courtney Carter `21 for the piece “Night Tower – Oil Pastels, Charcoal, and Magazine Clippings.” Coleman Thompson `21 received the second Juror’s Merit Henley Prize for the digital piece, “Skygazers.” The third Juror’s Merit Henley Prize was awarded to Veronica Thomas `21 for her experimental video titled, “traces of self.” Clara Dingle `21 received the final Juror’s Merit Henley Prize for her installation, “blobs that are alive and taking over.”

Following the juror, Professor Andrew Kaufman announced the recipients of the Studio Art Department’s Portfolio Award. Every year, a third and fourth year are recognized for the best portfolio, which includes representational imagery of a range of their work, as well as a CV component and artist’s statement. Tommy Lee `22 and Clara Dingle `21 were chosen as this year’s Portfolio Award recipients.

Both the Student Government Association and Office of Student Affairs purchased student pieces from those exhibited in the physical gallery. Work by Rose Caplan `21, Emma Thran `22, Taylor and Rande Nieto `21 will be on display in the JRC for years to come.

Raymond Martinez. The Waiting Game. Video (with sound). Photo by Shabana Gupta.

BAX is an institution at Grinnell and its (adapted) return to campus this spring is a sign of the familiar student-oriented Grinnell that upperclassmen have missed during the last year. Students familiar with the work of the Studio Art SEPC in previous years will appreciate the dedicated recovery of this iconic student event.

“We’re the only SEPC that has stuff that’s visible outside of the major,” said Doddimeade. “In my second year, we did two or three different pop-up shows in addition to doing BAX. We try to get students work shown often and try and have events and be seen because the whole point of making things is to share them with your friends.”

The BAX website will be available online indefinitely, and the exhibition in the GCMoA gallery is currently open to students, faculty and staff who sign up through 25Live. The exhibition will remain in the gallery through commencement, and GCMoA staff have made it possible for fourth-year students to bring their two approved graduation guests to sign up for a museum visit.

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Nadia Langley
Nadia Langley, Editor in Chief
Nadia Langley is a fourth year majoring in history and French. Her favorite historical French quote is: "Literally I didn't say that, that's so cray," -- Marie Antoinette, 1793.
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