Last Saturday, the Communication and Design Arts Department hosted “Still Here,” which was the department’s senior art exhibition. The opening ceremony of the exhibit was held from 1-3 p.m. in AU’s Jessie C. Wilson Gallery.
The exhibit featured the work of eight seniors, six of whom are design majors, and two who are fine arts majors, meaning that they focus primarily on painting. These students chose a project or subject to focus on at the beginning of the year and have spent the duration of the school year developing their work. This exhibit is their chance to show it off.
Senior Leigh Duke was one of the two fine arts majors whose pieces were featured in the gallery, and she had five of her tapestry paintings on display Saturday. “It was cool to get to share our work with everyone,” Duke said.
“It is easy to feel secluded from our community because we are at home or in our studios working on our work all of the time,” Duke said. “I really enjoyed getting to show it to people. It also can be kind of strange showing pieces that are very personal to you, though. People are very kind and complimentary of the way it looks, but not everyone asks what it is about.”
By the time any student graduates, they not only want to have bettered their craft, whatever it may be, but also to have learned life lessons along the way. Duke says she saw considerable growth in various areas over the course of her time at AU.
“I can’t speak for all of the seniors, but I was pretty freaked out when I got here,” she said. “There are a lot of people that think you’re crazy when you tell them you’re going to college for art.”
Duke also credited her professors with aiding in her growth over the four years in the department. “The foundations program was really intense,” she said. “There were lots of projects and challenges. I think the most incredible thing, though, was the way the professors pushed me to create things I didn’t think I could.”
“But there was also just the fact that studying art clicked for me,” she said. “Art history and theory classes taught me to think about and see the world in a new way that was really exciting. And painting and working with my hands taught me to communicate and work through some tough life stuff that I had a hard time talking about.”
“Then there’s the awesome experience of giving someone a project you’ve made just for them,” Duke said. “That’s the best.”
At the end of her four-year journey, Duke’s final thoughts are pretty simple. “I think art speaks to people in really personal ways if they let it. That’s what the art program has taught me: to engage the world in a more meaningful way.”
The art will be on display in the Wilson Gallery until May 5.