Friday, April 15, 2022

Behind the scenes of "Meraki"

Throughout April, the University of Redlands Art Gallery is hosting “Meraki,” an exhibition featuring the work of twenty-five graduating student artists. The exhibition was planned by students enrolled in the Studio Art capstone seminar. Earlier this month, I spoke with two of the students, Alicia Lopez and Calvin Originales, to learn more about what went into staging this exhibition.

Where are you from and what have you studied at University of Redlands? How would you describe your art?

Alicia Lopez: My name is Alicia Lopez, born Alicia Ortiz in Southern California. I raised a family before becoming a returning student. I started at Crafton Hills College, then transferred to Redlands, double majoring in Liberal Studies and Studio Art. My goal is to become an elementary school teacher who integrates Art with all other subjects, bringing it back to the elementary school classroom.

Calvin Originales: My name is Calvin Originales, and I have been living in Redlands for most of my life. I studied at Crafton Hills College for two years before transferring here to University of Redlands to study for another three years. My concentration is Graphic Design, but I have been working in many different mediums of art.

Alicia Lopez: My art is abstract, based off emotions I am feeling or struggling with. I work mainly with acrylic paints on canvas, and tend to use my fingers, hands, and arms to apply the paint at times. I am a very tactile person and like to bring texture to my pieces.

Calvin Originales: I believe that the work I create follows a very different idea than a lot of my classmates. As someone who was born with a hearing disability, I always focused on the visual aspects of everyday objects to live a comfortable life. Because of this, I enjoy seeing things that are easy to understand and translate.

Alicia Lopez: For the show, I created four body imprints (two are displayed) where I covered most of my body in paint (still trying to get it all out of my hair!) and lay in different positions on panels of cloth. Faceless Beauty is an acrylic painting displayed where I layered paint on top of paint to bring texture to the piece, using palette knives along with brushes to apply the paint. Torn Serenity, not in the show, is a piece where I took paper clay to create fingers, which I poked through the canvas to create a 3D piece. For myself, many times it is the process of creating, and not necessarily the outcome, that I am looking for.

Calvin Originales: My recent projects have consisted of visual graphics, architecture, landscaping, and sculpture to design an environment that is not only visually appealing, but also easy to navigate and understand. These environments I have been designing include parks, a beach, and even a section of a college campus.

What was involved in setting up the senior art show? 

Calvin Originales: Our 2022 Senior art show has been a class effort when it comes to putting it together. Professor Penny divided our class of 25 students into 4 different committees. We are on the exhibition committee and we have quite a few tasks. We led the discussion in coming up with a title that would represent our work and ourselves as artists. We also communicated with other classmates about the work they wish to present in the show and the space they need to effectively display their work. After we were able to get a better idea of what was being put in the show, a few of us on the committee brainstormed ideas on where we would want to place our classmates’ work, and others took charge in getting artwork labels and artist statements from our class.

Alicia Lopez: There are other committees involved who created a catalog and an online exhibit of the artists and their work, along with fliers, banners, and postcard invitations each of us involved could send out to loved ones. It was a huge group effort, and with everyone so willing to support each other in what they were trying to accomplish, I believe it to be a wonderful success for us all.

Calvin Originales: All this week, our class has been installing their work in the gallery. It was our committee’s job to make sure everything would run smoothly, but it took effort from our whole class to prepare it into how it is now. We all helped each other hang our artworks, adjust lighting, figure out placements of pedestals, and overall, design a space that would allow all our artworks to intrigue people the moment they take a step in the gallery.

What was something you learned about yourself, or other graduating artists, during the process of getting ready for this show?

Alicia Lopez: There is much collaboration and compromise involved with creating a successful group show. Last semester, we did set up an art show at a local pizza place, which gave us a little insight on what to expect for the show for this semester.

Calvin Originales: It is exciting to me to finally be able to see everyone’s work. Because our class has a variety of concentrations, a lot of us have never really shared a class with each other. I have taken intro classes with some but never shared another class with them until now, and it is interesting to see the work that they specialize in.

Alicia Lopez: I learned to become more forgiving with myself and more confident in the work that I create. Planning a show like this, you learn things about each other that you might not have otherwise. This great group of artists can be very intimidating at first when one sees how talented they all are. I was very intimidated and thought my work wasn’t “up to par” per se. Realizing that we all face the same fears/struggles in life, that we are all human and all could use a little help/support, reminded me to be proud of my own accomplishments and confident enough to attempt things I may have never considered otherwise. Being able to bounce ideas off of each other, especially those from other concentrations, helped in being able to see things from different perspectives and in solving issues where I was able to talk out where/why I was stuck.

The closing reception for “Meraki” is Thursday, April 21, 2022 from 4:30-6:30 pm at the University of Redlands Art Gallery. Selected works are available on the exhibition website:  

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