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Second annual art show: a stepping stone for students 

Photo credit: Mia Pandža

To celebrate graphic design and foundation students and their work, the Art Department is hosting their second annual student art show.  

The pieces will be on display in the Rainbow Gallery, located in Tower Fine Arts, from Feb. 13 to Mar. 3. The purpose of the show is to allow first-year students to comfortably present their work. Directors Autumn Brown and Mitchell Christensen created the exhibition to create a low-pressure space for students.   

“Foundations are first-year art students. The philosophy behind the exhibit is that a lot of them don’t have the confidence in their work to put a drawing up against a senior student. They feel like they might be compared or judged,” Brown said.  

Christensen described the show as a “springboard” for students to get their footing in displaying their art. The Rainbow Gallery is the ideal space for a laid-back show. Once a studio, the gallery is comfortable, featuring a lounge area and a workbench. The set up diminishes the pressure of a formal art show and allows visitors to relax while being surrounded by art. 

The show is also an opportunity to challenge the idea that graphic design isn’t art or can’t be displayed. Mitchell Christensen, an art professor with a concentration in graphic design, hopes this exhibition proves different than those claims. 

“You don’t frame graphic design like a framed painting. There’s a feeling like it doesn’t necessarily belong in a gallery or an art show. We want to show them [students] that this can exist in an art space,” Christensen said.  

Graphic design major Grace Wentlent took foundation classes in fall 2020. Her work from pandemic-era foundation classes and her current junior-year work are put up in the gallery, showing her progress as an artist. Wentlent considers artistic elements and principles with each of her projects. 

“Every piece I work on, even a branding project, I consider composition, mood and color, which is what every artist is doing no matter the medium,” Wentlent said. “Even if the viewer doesn’t ‘understand’ graphic design, they can interpret what the work is trying to convey message, tone and emotion wise, and then begin to see the elements that are making that connection.” 

The exhibition is the ideal place for students to explore displaying and boost their confidence. Autumn Brown, an assistant professor of the Art Department who specializes in foundations, took the idea of a foundations gallery from her prior teaching job. 

“If you came in here earlier, my cheeks were aching from how much I was smiling,” Brown said. “Our goal is to get students to put their work up and feel good about it because they have a lot to be proud of.” 

The gallery is free to visit and will be on display until Mar. 3. Visiting times can be found here.  

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