By MacKenzie Brady
Student Life Editor
On Monday, April 6, a link to this year’s 100 Proof Student Exhibition, opened in a virtual version of Kohl Gallery, was sent by Director and Curator for Kohl Gallery Tara Gladden.
100 Proof is an annual exhibition showcasing students of all departments’ artwork. Each spring, students across campus are invited to submit artworks of any size, form, and style to be considered for display in the exhibition.
According to the Kohl Gallery page on the Washington College website, “The 100 Proof Annual Student Artwork Exhibition highlights a broad range of artworks from both traditional and experimental mediums, processes, and concepts.”
“A call for artwork submissions is issued each February, and selections are made by a guest juror; recent jurors have included notable artists, curators, gallerists, and other arts professionals from Baltimore, Washington DC, and further afield,” the website said.
This year’s juror was Kyle Hackett, a Kent County native and painter who had an exhibition at Sumner Hall until February.
According to his biography on the Kohl Gallery page, “His paintings explore race, class, and social standing through approaches to self-representation and the constructed image.”
This year’s exhibition features work from junior Liane Beckley, senior Nina Black, senior Alexis Desai, junior Katie Ecoff, junior Harrison Ernst, senior Heber Guerra-Recinos, junior Kerri Harrigan, freshman Aryanna Horan, sophomore Ala Hussen, junior Julia Matsen, junior Sam Segura, freshman Isabella Smith, freshman Amara Sorosiak, freshman Larson Thomas, sophomore Liz Tilley, freshman Kaitlyn Tourin, freshman Peter Walls, and senior Casey Wolhar.
Though the exhibition has moved online, its digital format replicates the physical space of Kohl Gallery.
“When I first realized my final semester would be online, I was heartbroken,” Desai said. “I was heartbroken about all the missed opportunities and experiences. And one of those experiences was sharing my art with WC. But when I got the email that [the exhibition] was virtual I was overjoyed.”
Desai’s mixed media piece, “Puppet Master,” is a 3D work, so viewing it online in one image doesn’t give the full effect.
“Of course, part of me was still sad about the missed opportunity, especially because it is hard to see my piece in its entirety in a picture because it is 3D and has tiny details in it,” she said. “But I was grateful nonetheless because I think my message still comes across.”
“Puppet Master” was originally created as the final project in Assistant Professor of Studio Art Julie Wills’s Printmaking course. The piece combines her two field of study, psychology and art.
“At the time I was working as an intern in an outpatient drug and alcohol facility, so that’s what originally sparked the idea,” she said. “Initially I used any pill bottle that was donated to me by friends. But after class, I decided it would be more impactful if all the bottles I used would be only opioid prescriptions because that would further my message along.”
After making this switch, Desai’s project expanded by at least 20 bottles, creating more than just those featured in the gallery exhibition.
Other students whose artwork is featured in the exhibition had similar reactions to its move online.
“Although it would have been cool to see my work displayed in person, I thought the virtual exhibition was super interactive and a really interesting way of replacing the real-life thing,” Tourin said. “Seeing my work on display makes me feel like I’ve achieved something, and it always feels great to have people recognize your hard work.”
Tourin’s charcoal drawing, “Conversion on the Way to Damascus,” was created for Intermedia Drawing when students were told to create a master copy of an artist’s work.
“I chose Caravaggio’s ‘Conversion on the Way to Damascus’ because of the contrast he uses in his work and because I wanted to challenge myself to replicate an oil painting in a different medium that I was not used to working with,” she said.
Ecoff’s print, “Thoughts” was also originally created for Wills’s Printmaking course and expanded upon after. She created this version of the print specifically for 100 Proof, changing the color and taking symbols that were originally in the thought bubbles out so that viewers could ascribe their own thoughts and meaning to the work.
“I’m really honored to be in the exhibition and really excited it moved online instead of getting cancelled,” she said. She also mentioned that the large array of pieces within the exhibition expanded the idea of what could be considered art.
Thomas’s reformed nature reconstruction, “The Hidden Path,” was created in Associate Professor of Art and Chair of the Art and Art History Department Heather Harvey’s Art as Inquiry course.
For the assignment, students were asked to create a map of a journey, so Thomas borrowed a sleeping bag, got some food, and walked 10 miles to a beach, picking up dirt and twigs as he went.
“Unfortunately, because it’s online, it can’t be presented the way I wanted it to,” he said. The picture doesn’t quite capture the piece’s height and detail.
“It’s not ideal, but it’s the best of a situation that’s not great to begin with. Either way, somebody’s seeing my art and appreciating it,” he said.
While many works were created in WC art classes, not all of them were. Smith’s piece “Floating Swimming Man” was created in high school. She printed the photograph by hand, manipulated it with tape, and created texture with light.
“It’s an abstract art piece,” she said. “It’s interesting to see people’s interpretation on modern abstract art.”
The exhibition can be viewed online at https://www.artsteps.com/view/5e727f463a80dd2ac623e62b. The exhibition can also be viewed on a phone at https://youtu.be/HWy8v8gP4oA.
Gladden has also been emailing student spotlights featuring those whose art is featured in the exhibition, so be on the look-out for more information on the artists and their work.