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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
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Michael Lozada
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Museum of Art opens 2022 Bachelor of Arts Exhibition

Graphic by Lilli Morrish.

The Grinnell College Museum of Art’s (GCMoA) latest exhibition is a celebration of student creativity. The gallery’s walls are adorned with pieces created by third- and fourth-year studio art students who utilize media, ranging from digital programs to ceramics to textiles, to create unique and innovative artwork. 

The final exhibition of the 2021-2022 school year, the Bachelor of Arts Exhibition (BAX) opened on Friday, April 22. A team of nine students planned and produced the exhibit: Guhn (Tommy) Lee `22, Peta Barth `22, Caroline Shea `22, Max Sorenson `22, Will Borda `22, Mordecai Gonzalez Rodriguez `23, Stella Lowery `24, Georgia Carbone `24 and Jillian Bhuyan `24.  

“It’s interesting to see how GCMoA uses the exhibition as a learning experience for students,” said Museum Director Susan Baley. Supported by Director of Exhibit Design Milton Severe and Associate Director and Curator of Exhibitions Daniel Strong, students developed further insight into the process of developing a museum exhibition. 

Students are heavily involved in coordinating and executing every aspect of BAX, from entry screening to installation to publicity efforts to the selection of a juror, a visiting artist who selects award-winning pieces in a variety of categories. 

The involvement of a juror is a key part of the planning and execution of the event. This year, Lee led the juror selection process, with an emphasis on finding a candidate who would both provide an “objective perspective” in evaluating artwork and could serve as a “helpful and positive influence” for student artists participating in BAX. 

Advised by former GCMoA director Lesley Wright, the committee chose Jonathan deLima, the contemporary collection manager and curator for the Des Moines-based Krause Group, as this year’s juror. Leading up to the show, deLima served as a mentor for participating artists and was responsible for selecting the recipients of eight artistic awards.  

This year, BAX featured the work of 36 student artists, ten of whom received awards. The Inez Louise Henely `14 Best in Show Award was given to Max Sorenson `22 for his piece “Tracings.” 

In photography, the Tammy J. Zywicki `93 Memorial Prize went to Alexandra Fontana `22 for “Plastic Topographies.” 

Caroline Shea `22 received the Louis Glenn Zirkle Memorial Prize for Sculpture, in recognition of “Tube.” 

Four Juror’s Merit Henely Awards were given to Peta Barth `23 for “Premium Gas,” Emma Hastie `23 for “Meat Factory,” Melanie Holst `22 for “2020,” and Mordecai Gonzalez-Rodriguez `23 for “Queer Body I.” 

Zainab Thompson `22 received the Juror’s Award of Recognition for “Death.” 

This year, the Office of Student Affairs purchased two pieces that will be displayed in the Joe Rosenfield Center (JRC) over the coming years. At the awards ceremony, Program Coordinator for the Division of Student Affairs Nancy Guinane announced the selected pieces: “Refuge,” by Will Borda `22 and “Do you understand me now?” by Christa Cochran `22.  

Max Sorenson `22: Best in Show

Photo by Maddi Shinall.

Fourth-year Max Sorenson `22 received the Inez Louise Henely `14 Best in Show Award for “Tracings,” a reflection on the concept of place, the focus of Sorenson’s studio art seminar. “Tracings,” a trio of drawings, presents a “visual average” of three types of leaves collected at Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), from bur oak, white oak and walnut trees.  

Walking along the forest trails, Sorensen picked up a leaf after every ten steps, eventually tracing the outlines of the leaves with archival ink. “Tracings,” an examination of leaves as microelements within a larger ecosystem, is paired alongside “Two April,” an archival ink on paper piece that captures an expanse of trail at CERA.  

“It’s interesting to have two works as a series because they represent a transformation in my work over the past year and a half or so, moving from highly detailed to a focus on representation and observational drawing,” said Sorenson.   

Caroline Shea `22: Louis Glenn Zirkle Memorial Prize for Sculpture

Photo by Isabel Torrence.

The Louis Glenn Zirkle Memorial Prize for Sculpture went to Caroline Shea `22 for “Tube,” a fabric and wire sculpture suspended from the museum’s 14-foot ceiling. In the piece, Shea explores and stretches the immense possibilities of fiber arts, using muslin, wire, knitwork and string to develop the sculpture, strategies that Shea refined during an online sculpture class in the 2020 Fall 2 term.  

Traditionally, students in the class have sculpted with plaster and experimented with welding, but given the constraints of the online school year, they shifted to a different model, with students receiving sewing machines as a key part of their class materials. 

Having the opportunity to focus on the intersection of “sculpture and fibers” was a major impetus for Shea’s continued work within the medium.   

Alexandra Fontana `22: Tammy J. Zywicki Memorial Prize 

Photo by Isabel Torrence.

Alexandra Fontana `22 was awarded the Tammy J. Zywicki Memorial Prize for “Plastic Topographies,” a collection of two photos that explore an “underwater landscape.” 

Fontana created this by submerging LED lights and plastic sheets before photographing them in motion with a macro lens, allowing the photographer to present a subject at extremely close range.  

In the gallery, the photos have each been printed twice, with the second print placed on a clear background, techniques that both reiterate the role of plastic in the piece and enhance its dimensionality.  

“I’ve always been interested in abstract photos and trying to give photography a different quality beyond the representational. I installed the clear print because I wanted the experience of the piece to change based on where the viewer is standing — creating a sense of movement,” wrote Fontana in an email to the S&B. “Dead on, you can’t see the depth, but as you move around the other layer becomes clear and the visual experience is very different.” 

Editor’s note: Alexandra Fontana is a photographer for the S&B.  

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