Senior art students will showcase their yearlong projects in the Gonzaga University Urban Arts Center (GUUAC) for their exhibition “Introspection.”
Typically, over 10 seniors exhibit their pieces but this year, there are five seniors, Kenny Koning, Katie Cara, Morgan Wald, Olivia Isarankura and Chelsie Sunde, who are all art majors.
The off-campus gallery, monikered GUUAC, is relatively new to GU and has never displayed student art. The brick building, more than 100 years old, is adorned with a steel gate and neon lights by the entrance, with train tracks running alongside the second and third story windows.
“I haven’t really been able to display my art in any way,” Koning said. “I think most students at Gonzaga can relate to the artworks I’m putting out because it has to do with how the coronavirus has affected my college experience.”
Koning will be presenting his ceramic pieces, which he created using a technique called slabbing in which the potter rolls, cuts, then attaches pieces of clay together. From Mercer Island, Koning discovered slabbing in high school.
“Once I got to college, I began to put a little bit more meaning behind all my artworks,” Koning said. “I try to keep a lot of balance in my pieces. And coronavirus has thrown off the balance of our everyday life, so I kind of throw off the balance in some of my pieces that are related to the coronavirus.”
Another artist, Cara, who grew up in Southern California, was inspired by her grandmother, a painter, to pursue art.
Her watercolor works resemble topographical maps, a nod to her affinity for the natural environment. Finding painting a meditative exercise, she uses color psychology to represent her emotions, and is able to reflect as she repeats the lines over and over again.
“It all started with linework,” Cara said. “It started as just doodles in the margins of my notebooks in class, and then I decided to just expand on that and turn it into an art form.”
Wald, hailing from Tacoma, Washington, is majoring in fine arts with a concentration in art history. Her focus lies in comics, a love that developed because her dad was born in Japan.
“There are more people of color becoming comic book artists and writers and getting to change the narrative, and I’ve really always found that interesting because traditionally, comic books were what we called the poor man’s novel,” Wald said. “Lots of times, lower classes in the 1800s were able to take it over because you didn’t need to be literate, and you didn’t need to be educated to create them. They didn’t require a refined art style.”
Her project focuses on five pages from her comic series, but with increased proportions, from the smallest piece being 3 feet by 2 feet to her largest, 6 feet by 4 feet. Using a more traditional style of black and white, they follow the lowest point in the comic, a reflection of how she felt the coronavirus has affected her senior year.
“The audience doesn’t get quite a clear answer either, because I made sure to cut it off where there’s no resolution, whether it’s good or bad, because it’s kind of this odd uncertainty of we don’t know where it’s going,” Wald said.
Isarankura, a Seattle native, will be showcasing her printmaking and life drawing.
Her pieces are driven by the inquiry of whether one can shatter the glass ceiling, a subject of interest stemming from her struggles with mental health and the recent political and social climate.
Isarankura chose to write a poem for her artist’s statement, finding the form fluid, filled with direction and containing character.
Isarankura has always been encouraged to delve into her creativity as both her parents went to art school.
Her exploration of Renaissance art, life drawing and immersion in Italian culture while abroad in Florence expanded her network and refined her technique.
The last artist, Sunde, originally from Spokane but now residing in Brooklyn, will be showing a series of oil painting portraits, a project she undertook to reconcile her relationship with family members.
A photographer and a painter, Sunde cites the two help her understand people better, as the uniqueness of the individual always presents something new.
Sunde recently investigated the perspective of a blind friend, who is only able to see shapes, colors and light. Her friend recorded himself describing images of people, and she later painted his depictions as she played the recording.
She attributes this project to helping her practice abstraction, in addition to gaining insight on the different ways people experience life, and finding beauty in those differences.
“My plan is to work for an artist or work at a museum for a few years and try to do an MFA degree in New York or somewhere else,” Sunde said.
Having been working together once a week for the past year, the five artists have developed close relationships, finding inspiration in each other.
The variety of mediums also ensures that there is no air of competitiveness between each other.
With coronavirus mandates still in place, members of the GU community will be able to experience the GUUAC in an intimate environment, as only five gallery goers are allowed for each 45-minute period.
The gallery, located at 125 S. Stevens St., will last for a month from April 9 to May 9. A virtual showing will also take place on May 7. Information can be found at guseniorshow.org.
“Be present in the space, enjoy the space, and just know how much work and time and effort and love went into it,” Isarankura said. “You have to love what you’re doing if you want to succeed, and I think we are all succeeding really well.”