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BFA seniors debut gallery

By Russell Axon
On April 12, 2012

Senior year is the last opportunity for students to leave their mark and five Fine Arts students have a whole gallery to do so.

The 2012 Bachelor of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition features the artwork of five graduating BFA seniors. The exhibit began last Monday and runs until Sunday, May 13, at the Toledo Museum of Art Campus Gallery.

Featured artists this year include new media majors Joseph Buehrer, Ali Fisher and Rachelle Raymer-Gilbert, along with Qina Chen and Julia LaBay.

Each artist submitted multiple pieces created specifically for the annual exhibit, according to CVA Gallery Director Ben Pond.

“Every spring semester, the graduating BFA students have to exhibit,” he said. “This is supposed to be their capstone achievement.”

Buehrer’s artwork showcases select panels from his in-progress graphic novel “The Divine.” He said the story follows 22-year-old Tim, an immortal, as he traverses a future post-apocalyptic world in an effort to bring down its oppressive leaders. His artwork mixes photographs of real environments and figure drawings to “create a connection” between the art and the viewer, in addition to commenting on current social issues, according to Buehrer.

“I want people to feel like this story could actually happen,” he said. “It’s kind of like a movie trailer for a comic.”

Chen’s artwork includes six colorful portraits and one design piece, all created through digital media. According to her artist’s statement, Chen’s status as an international student has exposed her to both Asian and Western art and these influences are reflected in her “surreal and dream-like” portraits. Her statement also said her gallery works are exaggerated depictions of negative emotions.

Pond said Chen’s computer-savvy talents are unique among her peers.

“She treats [a computer] as a painting or drawing essentially, which I don’t know is all that common in a new media department,” he said. “She likes making things come from scratch and creating them on the computer.”

Fisher said her artwork combines screen printing, acrylic colors, photography and visual/audio media to interpret her experiences as a Division 1 collegiate cross-country runner. Her artwork includes three mixed media drawings and a visual piece. She said she wants her work to convey the conflict between chaos and control which she encounters as an athlete.

“I really wanted to tackle sports art because it’s so uncommon,” Fisher said. “And I’ve been running since grade school, so it’s a big part of my life.”

LaBay’s artwork features a set of sculptures and three mixed media pieces. For the exhibit, she drew inspiration from personal experiences and employed a variety of “traditional and non-traditional materials … to create a metaphorical interpretation of the past,” according to her artist’s statement.

“She’s a very talented sculptor,” Pond said. “She’s got an excellent sense of materials.”

Raymer-Gilbert’s specialty is photography and for the exhibit she said she used her skills primarily to document aspects of her daughter’s life, specifically her transformation into a young woman. Her main piece visually chronicles virtually every toy her now-teenage daughter has ever owned, while her other photos focus on her daughter today. Raymer-Gilbert said she used the exhibit as an opportunity to spend time with her daughter.

“She’s very supportive of my work and what I do,” she said. “But I know she got a little frustrated towards the end because I was always taking pictures of her.”

Pond said he helped the artists set up the gallery so everyone’s work looked its best. He said there were enough pieces this year for the exhibit to extend beyond the gallery’s “relatively small space” into the hallways of the CVA.

“Space was definitely the biggest challenge for us,” Raymer-Gilbert said. “Ben’s been outstanding in helping us and getting to know us.”

Buehrer said the CVA faculty was also very helpful leading up to the exhibit.

“I wouldn’t have been able to get this far without the faculty’s help,” he said.

Raymer-Gilbert said the faculty’s yearly reviews and availability outside of school hours were extremely beneficial.

An opening reception is scheduled for this Friday from 6 to 8 p.m.

Fisher said she is excited for her teammates and coaches to see her artwork for the first time, since some of them are featured in her pieces.12

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