Forming Their Futures
May 10, 2019
By Brooke Morton
Behind the scenes of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum exhibition that gives graduating studio art majors the real-world experience they need to make an immediate impact in the art world.
Few college students graduate with museum exhibitions on their resumes, but each student in this year’s graduating class of studio art majors now holds this distinction.
Every spring, Rollins studio art majors have the opportunity to contribute to a senior exhibition at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum (CFAM) as part of their Senior Seminar course. But there are no guaranteed spots in this show—students have to fight for their place.
“It’s not a given that the students will get their works in a museum—it’s an intense, nerve-wracking process,” says art professor Dawn Roe, the instructor of this year’s Senior Seminar.
Students submit final works to a jury composed of CFAM curatorial staff and studio art faculty. This year’s jury selected winning pieces from all six seniors for an exhibition named Cease and Desist, which is on display at CFAM through May 12.
Each of the exhibition’s works exist as the embodiment of distinct research practices developed by the students throughout their final year of study. Using different mediums, the student-artists explored everything from social injustice and sexual assault to the realities of our changing environment.
Here’s a look at the development and execution of each of the six projects along with lessons learned from the student-artists as they start designing their next steps.
Meredith Ewen ’19
Ewen met with sexual assault and domestic abuse survivors in the community and requested donated undergarments for her project to highlight the wide-sweeping nature of these issues. She then embroidered the pieces with quotes from the survivors or quotes found from research. Ewen has 18 garments on display in the exhibit.
“Our class revolved around open, honest, in-person critiques, which made me get comfortable defending my work in person,” says Ewen. “Those discussions led me to create more meaningful work that I’m able to talk about in a more meaningful way.”
Ewen plans to continue creating art and will apply for jobs related to Title IX, whether on college campuses or with the Department of Education. She’s also keeping her options open for further education, possibly earning a master’s in embroidered work or arts therapy and mental health counseling.
Anastasia Rooke ’19
Rooke crafted a hand-folded lenticular, an art form that combines two images, and depending on the angle of view, only one image is visible at a time. She chose this medium to depict the unseen social injustices of the garment industry like poor wages and unsafe working conditions. When changing view, the lenticular reveals the single photo of a social media influencer, representing the ease and speed with which the fast-fashion industry makes money off the hardships of others.
“The faculty promoted a lot of journaling and writing throughout this creative process,” says Rooke. “It really helps to have ideas written out thoroughly to make sure you’re clear on what you want with your art. Through journaling, I was able to dig deeper and think about the issues in a critical way. I found out how passionate I was about these social injustices inside the fashion industry.”
Rooke is moving to the D.C. area and has applied for positions in art studios. She also plans to pursue work in graphic design.
Alicia Sales ’19
Sales created a set of five archival pigment prints that bring together tarot cards of her own design with psychedelic art to spark conversation about divination versus self-reflection.
“We had a jurying process with the museum and studio art staff,” says Sales. “They critiqued our work and picked which pieces they wanted as part of the exhibit. That’s exactly how the jurying process works at a museum—we don’t hear what happens during the critique. We only find out afterward which works have been chosen.”
Sales is planning to work in museums after graduation while also pursuing her own art on the side. Currently, she is building a portfolio in order to apply to graduate art school for printmaking.
Ari Schubot ’19
Schubot’s senior project is a series of 14 color photographs of vines growing on concrete walls around Winter Park, each image telling the story of nature’s ability to persevere in a man-made world.
“This class has been very helpful in terms of getting my work out there and opening my eyes to the art world and what it takes,” says Schubot. “To date, I have three exhibitions under my belt, and that never would’ve happened if I had simply tried to become an artist on my own.”
Schubot is applying to be a national park ranger, giving her the opportunity to photograph wild spaces and hone her craft. In the meantime, she is leaving behind a legacy on campus: Susan Singer, Rollins’ vice president for academic affairs and provost, initiated a sale to purchase six of Schubot’s pieces for the College.
Elizabeth Shugart ’19
Shugart explores the topic of human manipulation of the land with a focus on the Everglades. Her three works are digital collages that combine her own photos with satellite images of the land as well as archival images of Native American tribes in Florida and the history of the sugar-cane industry. Rollins has purchased her main piece, soon to be displayed in Olin Library.
“Dr. Roe taught us the proper way to go about pricing, teaching us to look at similar works, similar mediums, and artwork that is of a similar level to ours,” says Shugart. “She taught us the differences in pricing a painting and an archival print. Most of all, in pricing your work, you have to be confident.”
Shugart, who double majored in environmental studies and studio art, has her sights set on a career in landscape architecture. She also intends to maintain an artistic practice on the side.
Zinnia Upson ’20
Upson’s five pieces of found-art assemblage—that is, 3-D collage art—bring together mirrors, pieces of wood, twine, vellum, and brooding chambers (aka structures that house bee eggs) to highlight the dangers of colony collapse.
“I didn’t know how much work went into hanging art in an exhibition,” says Upson. “I thought you just walked in and dropped off your work. In reality, you have much more say in how it hangs, the lighting, and the arranged order of your works, as each piece is in conversation with the piece next to it.”
Following the exhibit at CFAM, Upson’s collection will be on display at the New Pond Farm Invitational Art Show in Redding, Connecticut, followed by a show at the Fishers Island Community Center in New York. Farther afield, Upson hopes to become an elementary art school teacher, combining her passion for art with her love of children.