Seniors present culmination of work at Nexilis showcase

Heidi Speck

There is a season from the beginning of April that bleeds into the early days of June, wherein every couple of weeks graduating seniors have the chance to display their work in the Art Center.

The most recent group of seniors to display their work come from the Illustration or New Pictures emphasis, presenting their work in a show titled “Nexilis.”

Shows like “Nexilis” give seniors the opportunity to glance into the world they are entering into after they graduate. By learning how to set up their work in a gallery and having a gallery opening, students learn one of the many ways art is displayed and sold.

After a year’s worth of hard work towards their pieces, the seven students are thankful for their work to finally be appreciated by their family and peers.

With mediums ranging from water color to embroidery floss, each set of work had a very unique style of its own.

On the wall along the ramp leading into the Art Center was the work of Kelsey Donnelly. Through a combination of watercolor and graphite, Donnelly articulated personal experiences in a “storyboarding and graphic novel sequencing” through a soft palette of colors.

Donnelly said she was deeply inspired by reflecting moments of her life in her art and wanted to “give the viewer a glimpse into her world.”

Along that same wall was the digital work of Ariela Arellano. Through deeply saturated colors, Arellano explored the androgyny between masculinity and femininity in tandem with the intersectionality of race and gender.

“There is only the idea of being a loving and inspiring human being, it is okay to be a woman who strives to be strong and independent and confident, and a man who desires to be vulnerable and empathetic,”Arellano said.

On the wall adjacent to Arellano’s work was the fantastic art of Julienne Rychner. Inspired by the idea of storytelling through the development of powerful characters, Rychner’s work included detailed depictions of the creatures that she desires to use to tell her own story one day.

On the other side of the room was the work of Aubrey McMichael titled, “Between Spaces.” Through the highly contrasting color palette of orange and blue and the use of minimal detail, McMichael celebrates the joy of the simple things in life.

“Seemingly smalls things like eating dinner with my family or borrowing a sweatshirt from a friend are moments I cherish,” McMichael said.  

The brightly colored work of David Lee drew in the eyes of viewers. Through intricate cutting of paper, Lee embraces his “instinct to roam in a sea of color,” and in his case, a literal “sea” of color.

Lee’s work featured whimsical depictions of sea creatures, such as whales and shrimp, alongside other animals like rabbits, bears, dogs and cats. Lee’s work included depictions of fairy-like creations alongside the variety of other vivid depictions of animals.

Nearest to the front of the room, Laura Shdo’s art explores the power of the Christian faith with the use of deep, bold colors. In her work, Shdo states that through God, people can navigate the “dark and dangerous” world.

In Courtney Rutzer’s art, embroidery and dyed fabrics were used in order to appreciate what home truly means. Deeply inspired by her experience with the Urban Plunge program, where she saw first- hand the impacts of the homeless crisis, Rutzer commented on the significance of “home” in work in the show by including imagery associated with home in each of her pieces.

“Our lives are interconnected. Our individual pursuits and lack of impact and shape the world of those around us, especially the marginalized,” Rutzer said.

In addition to the art displayed on the walls of the building, the seniors also organized a pop-up-shop to sell merchandise designed similarly to their work featured in the show. Items for sale ranged from tote bags to original works that were not even on display.

McMichael said that the pop-up-shop was a great way for the seniors to get an introduction into the world of selling their work and understanding the aspect of business involved.

Not only is a senior show a great way for students to show off their work from over the course of the year, but it also addresses the formalities of having gallery work. Art showcases like “Nexilis” provide SPU art students the freedom and experience needed for success following graduation.