After the awards had been handed out and the refreshments served, Timothy Peterson made his way across the Paul J. Schupf Sculpture Court for a conversation with artist Torsten Brinkema ’22.
“We were really impressed,” Peterson told Brinkema. “We feel you’re ready to take one foot out of Colby and step right into the art world.”
One of 12 artists in the 2022 Senior Exhibition on view at the Colby College Museum of Art, Brinkema had just received the Charles M. Hovey Pepper Prize for meritorious work, awarded for a video and sculpture installation he created called Preservation that explores the colonization of indigenous lands from his personal perspective—his great-great-great uncle was the sculptor Guzton Borglum, who carved Mount Rushmore. Peterson, director of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art and one of the juror’s who awarded the prize, wanted a moment.
Humbled by the compliment, Brinkema called attention to the work of his peers and the support of the faculty and the College as a whole.
“I’m happy, but it’s a win for everybody. It’s such a good group – and this is an incredible institution,” Brinkema said. “To have the opportunity to exhibit our student work among the work of Pablo Picasso, Harry Callahan, and Richard Serra—to share the same space as these artists—is a huge confidence boost and an opportunity to open our eyes to what is possible for the future, and maybe even the near future.”
In addition to Brinkema, graduating seniors exhibiting work are Lucy Brumberger, Joseph Bui, Christine Chang, Mira DiSilvestro, Stewart Egan, Sabina Garibovic, Giselle Mayorkas, Sam Onche, Chris Rodiger, Charlotte Rogerson, and Dora Wang. The work in the exhibition represents each artist’s year-long studio art capstone project.
Bui, a photographer, won the President’s Purchase Prize. The Art History Senior Research Prize, awarded to a graduating art history major for a capstone essay, went to Annie Muller.
Gallery owner and curator Sarah Bouchard, another juror, praised the caliber of the work across the exhibition and said, “It shows that somebody is doing something right here at Colby.” Artist, educator, and curator Peter Bruun served as the third juror.
The May 5 opening was a celebration of the creative spirit and energy of Colby’s studio art majors and art at Colby in general.
On view in the Davis Gallery through May 22, the 2022 Senior Exhibition demonstrates the dedication of the artists to their studio practices, said Amanda Lilleston, visiting assistant professor of art. She described the capstone seminar as a challenge and a leap of faith. An artist commits to a creative endeavor, learns to communicate a creative vision, and then refines and transforms that idea into material objects.
The culminating exhibition is an impressive result, she told the gathering of artists, family, and friends, but it’s easy to lose sight of the enormity of the feat they accomplished.
“As capstone coordinator and studio professor, I get to witness the journey. Only a small fraction of the experience is displayed here. What you do not see is the years of discipline and practice that allow them to hone their skills. You don’t see the discussions and critiques and written reflections on the countless iterations of the work, where they refine their ideas,” she said.
“The exhibiting artists we are celebrating did all of this and more. They formed a community that was both critical and supportive, they committed themselves to creative expression, and harnessed that energy to create something where there was nothing before.”
The Art Department produced a catalog to accompany the exhibition. Art history students used their creative license to write insightful and engaging essays about the artwork, offering their interpretations, observations, and ideas.
Bui won the President’s Purchase Prize for a photo of his parents back home in Texas. For his capstone project, he created a series of black-and-white images of private moments that he captured with his family—his mother, the hairdresser, giving his father, the handyman, a haircut in her salon; his grandfather’s funeral; simple, daily joys. He also made a hand-bound book of photos and words as an homage to his parents’ legacy.
It’s all very personal, a family album for all to see.
“Coming from Houston to Colby was a long stretch,” Bui said. “Homesickness definitely played into this work. I was doing work about my family and being afraid of their passing as a motivator.”
The capstone project and exhibition represent a new, hopeful chapter in Rodiger’s life. Diagnosed with metastatic cancer as a sophomore and now cancer free, he made a series of small oil-on-panel landscape paintings en plein air of specific moments in nature, or what he calls “the syncopated movements of fog, the displacement of mud, and the freezing and thawing of ice and snow.”
These are abstracted landscapes of fragile places in transition along the circle of life. Following the fear, uncertainty, and disruptive chaos of cancer, painting quiet moments in nature gave Rodiger the opportunity to pause and reflect with all his senses, to be more aware and simply slow down.
“Art has allowed me to be more present. I’m thinking more about how a place makes me feel, and not just copying it,” said Rodiger, who is showing his paintings at Topo Gallery in Camden, owned by Keenan Boscoe ’19. He plans to take a year off before starting a graduate program at Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
An interest in biology, speculative biology, and taxonomy led Garibovic to the printmaking studio, where she pulled woodcut prints of animal skulls. Delighting in the details of the points and ridges of the bone structures, she represents the specific forms that are hidden by flesh and fur in her prints. She checked out 40 pounds of books from the library to research her subjects.
Like the other artists, she is eager for what comes next. “This show is really dipping my toes in the waters of becoming a professional artist full time. Having the experience of working with other brilliant artists and setting up an exhibition for the explicit purpose of having it in a gallery is something I never thought I would do this early in my life,” she said. “I am super grateful to be here.”
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