Four years of work, creativity culminate in thesis exhibit

Although the walls of the Bertha V.B. Lederer Gallery currently display work by 10 graduating Geneseo artists, the 2013 “Senior Thesis Exhibition” forms a surprisingly cohesive, yet multifaceted whole.

The exhibit - an annual showcase of work by senior art majors - is interdisciplinary in terms of media and artistic style. Large-scale installations and paintings, jewelry, video, illustrations and reliefs work together in the gallery space to create a vibrant atmosphere filled with unexpected elements.

While not necessarily a direct reflection of the projects they’ve executed throughout their time at Geneseo according to senior Nathan Loewenstein, the “Senior Thesis Exhibition” allows students to apply the skills they’ve learned from class art projects to their own creative endeavors.

He added that this year’s selection of works was unique in that “not one person did something like the person next to them.”

Loewenstein’s contribution, three large-scale works collectively titled “Annie,” adds a new perspective to recent discourse on firearms. He created the abstract paintings by shooting paint-filled balloons with a shotgun. 

“I tried to take something that a lot of people see in a negative way and I tried to be creative with it,” Loewenstein said. “It speaks to how it’s my choice to use [guns] this way and some people choose to use them in another way.”

One of the most dynamic parts of the exhibit was a jewelry display by senior Kyra Rhoades called “Heirlooms.” A highly symbolic saga of rings, bracelets and necklaces, “Heirlooms” explains Rhoades’ thought processes in creating jewelry reminiscent of the personalities of each of the important women in her family.

Adjacent to “Heirlooms” is a dominating installation by senior Olenka Szczurek, unforgettably titled “Frigid Bitch.” Szczurek holds back nothing in her cacophonous sculpture, a pyramidal mound of dirt, powdered sugar, vegetation and a dead male house sparrow, among other objects. “Frigid Bitch” commands the center of the gallery with a unique energy - a poignant portrayal of bitterly mangled love.

Senior Joo Shin’s “Prayers for the Dead,” a series of three powerful clay reliefs, hangs quietly in the corner of the gallery. According to Shin, the reliefs were inspired by her anthropology major and serve as an exploration of the American media’s image of the war with the Middle East.

Centrally, the relief portrays a child dying from the effects of war as his mother prays alongside. Shin said she was inspired to create the relief by the lack of media emphasis on civilian deaths like the one she chose to depict.

“The terrorists are just mere parts of it, but they’re portraying the whole country as terrorists,” she said.

This second-to-last senior thesis exhibit features art created, curated and installed by students. It will remain on display until after commencement on Saturday May 18.