By Maggie Buterbaugh
Elm Staff Writer
Creativity and imagination are huge parts of any community’s culture. Art allows people to express their ideas, beliefs, and emotions in a thought-provoking way. Here at Washington College, there are many opportunities for students to express themselves and learn from others. One way that students can learn and develop creativity is The 100 Proof Exhibit. The exhibit is an annual art show held towards the end of the school year that features current students’ work. The Art and Art History department hosted it in the Kohl Gallery this April.
Art professor Benjamin Bellas said, “With this year’s exhibition we gave preference to larger scale works than in the past. This reduced the number of works we were able to include in the exhibition, but the ambitious nature of the works that were ultimately chosen make for a dynamic experience.”
Bellas also explained there is no specific theme or direction of the exhibit. “There is no over-arching theme to the work,” he said. “It is a selection of some of the best artworks created at WC by students over the course of the last academic year. There are examples of installation, painting, sculpture, video, photography, and performance.”
Senior Catie Hamilton’s work is displayed in the exhibit. Her piece in the exhibit was inspired by an assignment from Professor Bellas. “The video work was completed for an assignment in Intermedia_VNM that is taught by Prof. Bellas,” she said. “The guidelines of the project were to complete a work that used a new media approach but also had a conceptual meaning. Remembering a speaker that came to WC last year, Joel Sartore, I gathered his images from his website using Automator and applied a blur filter on them.”
She explained that her projects had a deeper meaning behind them. “The photographs were animals that are or are close to being endangered,” she said. “I then provided an input list to automator that spoke the names of all of the animals to add an auditory piece to the work. As the piece is projected on the wall, you are able to see shadows casted against the animals that are being blurred out of the world, suggesting that humans are the reason why these animals are being threatened.” Hamilton’s video is projected on a wall composed of the blurred images of endangered animals.
Senior Melody Bishop also participated in the art exhibit. She used Sharpie markers and watercolors to create her project. Bishop described her artistic creativity by explaining her inspiration. She said, “Over the summer I was having a lot of violent nightmares. I’d been doodling demons like the one in my painting for while, so I thought to personify these nightmares in the same way, to explore what a physical manifestation of that particular demon might look like.”
Junior Ryan Stevens, another artist that displayed work in the exhibit, said, “I was inspired by my professor’s and peers’ critiques of my previous work asking me to go bigger, excited to deal with both the outside and inside of the cabinet. It’s like getting a present, about what’s on the inside. I wanted to go super large, not handheld, more sculptural, and installation-based. It has a deeper meaning because it’s a beacon of pleasure, happiness, mystery, and intrigue.”
Stevens’ project has a very special look that took work. “It’s multi-sided. You can walk around it and experience different feelings from close up to far away,” he said. “It also means that everything is not always surface level. Sometimes you have to go deeper, and can’t judge a book by its cover or in this case, a cabinet.” The piece is made of newspaper, blue painter tape, paint swatches, a manila folder, a map, string, a large storage cabinet with wheels, and wrapping paper.
The 100 Proof exhibition is a great way to reflect the hard work of WC students. Hamilton said, “The artwork in 100 Proof is a group of terrific work that accurately depicts different kinds, approaches, and meanings that art can have. 100 Proof also shows what it means to go to a liberal arts institution. There is a wide range of works that incorporate other influences.”
Bishop said, “I was really surprised at how abstract the whole exhibit was this year. I think it really showcased the range of talent across so many different mediums that WC students have.” Stevens was also happy with how the exhibition turned out. “I loved [the pieces]. I thought they were well thought out and it was exciting to see the work of my peers,” he said.