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It’s true that April showers bring May flowers, but for senior art students, these months translate into late nights at the studio, final decision making, and a whole lot of caffeine in preparation for the Senior Art Major Exhibition. The senior show is the culmination of 4 years of adapting assignments to fit one’s own style and focus that have developed way before that. This year, the Art and Art History Department at Trinity University is pleased to present Eight Confessions with works by Magdalen Cheatham, Liz Day, Anna Laflin, Beverly Morabito, Delfina Morales, Julia Poage, Danielle Trevino, and Abigail Wharton. On view from April 25 to May 18th, the Senior Art Major Exhibition is composed of eight unique accounts in which the artists explore a variety of mediums to reflect personal experiences.
The artists shared that coming up with a title that would fit everyone’s style and content was extremely difficult. “Everyone is presenting something remarkably different and intimate, it wouldn’t make sense to group it together,” said Julia Poage. So, how do you market eight individuals, stories, and statements in one exhibition? The solution seemed to highlight the individuality in each of the artists’ voices with the title Eight Confessions. Traditionally rooted as a statement setting out essential religious doctrine, confession is a formal admission of one’s sins with repentance and desire of absolution, particularly done privately to a priest or religious duty. However, rather than disclosing their sins to seek absolution, these artists share intimate revelations about their private life that expose their interests, self-growth, passions, turbulence, and history.
Liz Day’s sculptural works use canvases layered with small organic shapes and drawn topographies. As a process artist, she is deeply interested in form, line, movement, and the subtleties of texture within a composition. Day shares, “my current project explores an ancient water marbling technique from Japan called Suminagashi. Using one ink color and a ‘resist’ (which creates the negative shapes), rings of color create their own unique and organic topographies. After printing these patterns on my handmade paper, I draw attention to the ‘mistakes,’ or the areas the ink has forgotten, to stitch together the composition.”
Minoring in Creative Writing and Arts, Letters, and Enterprise, Beverly Morabito translates a 25-page poem about her relationship with her mother into five oil paintings with yellow spaces and objects that are symbolic and personal to them both. “I explore our relationship through the lens of the color yellow. It is an abstract form of storytelling, providing lots of information about my mother and me within the images without giving away the entire narrative,” states Morabito. Where the viewer admires collages of images and ideas in yellow hues, the paintings depict a complex relationship that is only fully understood by both Beverly and her mother. She says, “the story I am telling is an obsessive analysis without a conclusion; a glimpse into a narrative that is still being formed.”
As a dual citizen of the neighboring countries, Delfina Morales is deeply concerned with notions of sociopolitical and racial identity. Using sculptural photography, Morales “dissect[s] the duality and sociology of [her] white and brown self to understand [her] place in both the United States and Mexico.” In her photographs, Morales connects past familial histories to the present by documenting family members, close friends, memories, and even her own identity. “The beauty in photography is the way in which it challenges truth and indexicality. By rephotographing images of my family that span from 1950 to the present day, my reality and identity have been reimagined and recontextualized,” discusses Morales. In these photographs, she adds heavy mark making to mimic and “illustrate vibrant energy that emerges from the stillness of deep indigenous Mexican souls.”
Julia Poage works from family photos to reflect the hidden agitation of her everyday surroundings. She shares, “my work is driven by a need for self‐understanding and articulation of memory, and I hope to visually translate this difficult emotional process. By copying badly‐taken family photos, I slowly work through the narratives of human error implied in these images. Juxtaposing these two narratives reveals the catharsis that comes with re‐addressing half‐forgotten memories.” Her use of color pencil and watercolor to create obsessive mark-making and text elements paired with the domestic imagery form a cohesive visual understanding of the artist’s past and present experiences.
With work experience in television, radio, graphic design, photography, and journalism, Danielle Trevino uses sculpture, cyanotype, and screenprints to comment on the impact of politics on society. “My work is a reaction to the current state of American politics, our current news cycle, and is a visual representation of opinions that are shared and supported by many Americans that are notably ignored by the Administration,” shares Trevino.
Raised and shaped by Southerners, Abigail Wharton reclaims the comfort and warmth of the processes and aesthetics unique to craft traditions (papermaking, calligraphy, ceramic wares, carving techniques, and textile art) located in East Texas, South Louisiana, and Central Kentucky. “My work is a tool for exploring the intersection of politics and Christian fundamentalist tradition, namely the contradictions that exist between the canon scriptural materials and the collective actions of Evangelical churches,” states Wharton. She seeks to visually translate the trauma of exile in order to “provide insight into the pain of systemic oppression in spiritual environments and for queer and LGBTQ+ viewers to be empowered, venerated, and represented.”
Lastly, Anna Laflin and Magdalen Cheatham work with three-dimensional structures to explore ideas of self-growth, healing, and vulnerability. While Cheatham uses ceramics, Laflin uses body casts to bring painfully personal experiences into the public sphere. It is true that art can be a cathartic, healing experience and can create a space to address certain emotions and topics for both artists and viewers alike.
These artists have created a supportive and positive environment for artistic development with an all-female cohort and baseline feminist attitude. They admitted that their group chat consisted of a never-ending thread of encouraging messages regarding deadlines, critiques, and existential crises throughout their senior year. Like any successful person, these artists have learned to lean on the people who believe in them and support them to push onward with their goals, especially faculty, mentors, family, and friends.
Eight Confessions reminds us that everyone is carrying around unseen history and that alone deserves tolerance. Each artist sees the value in sharing their story despite it might being even more raw than intended. Through these intimate revelations, Cheatham, Day, Laflin, Morabito, Morales, Poage, Trevino, and Wharton recognize the universal challenge of reconciling who you are with where you come from and where you want to go. In their compositions, they own their stories but leave their art open to interpretation. Check out Eight Confessions at the opening reception Thursday, April 25th from 5 to 7 PM. Unfiltered SA will be there and so should you!
On view through May 18, 2019
Michael and Noemi Neirdoff Art Gallery
1 Trinity Place
San Antonio, Texas 78212
Tuesday – Saturday, 1 – 5 PM and by appointment