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Strength, Beauty, History Themes Within Senior Art Show

One senior is fascinated with her family history. Another is focused on finding beauty in any body. And yet another is fixated on beads and jewelry. This trio of artists will showcase signature works during “Mixed Media Minds,” the senior art show at Keuka College’s Lightner Gallery.

Friendship resident Emma Wolf has crafted mixed media collages of her great-grandmother’s family using a typewritten essay, old photos recreated on tracing paper, and a wash of coffee grounds and water to create a vintage look. From collage renderings of parts of the bodies of many women, Kaye Field of Torrington, Conn. has fashioned one body, with a mirror in place of the head. Meanwhile, Ayuko Sakurai of Yokohama, Japan, south of Tokyo, has crafted multiple works with colored beads, jewelry and fabrics.

Wolf's mixed media portraits of family

Each young woman is a visual and verbal art major, and all three will be on hand to greet the public at an artists reception, Thursday, April 24 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. at Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library, where light refreshments will be served. The show continues through May 16.

According to Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art, this exhibit features not just three unique styles, but three creative approaches to communicating an idea, emotion or experience, with each artist incorporating pieces of her life experiences

Portion of Kaye Field's "Beautiful Reflections" mixed media

According to Field, body image and the concept of beauty remains an intrinsic struggle for women everywhere and became the subject of her work, “Beautiful Reflections.” She chose to use a variety of media “to depict how no woman and no person is the same. We are all created differently and all of these differences are what make us all beautiful,” she said.

Field said the women who participated in her project came from all over the world and showed their courage and bravery by sending her photos to use as inspiration for the work.

“The mirror is a big part of this piece. Everyone should look in the mirror and be able to smile at their reflection,” Field said.

Wolf, too, could cite courage and bravery of strong women in her family history, such as her great-grandmother, Lula May, and other relatives who survived in regions of Florida where wild, untamed shores and marshes made daily life a struggle. Scattered for display below her mixed media works of Lula May as a child, and later, an aging woman, are knickknacks and small treasures: old-fashioned pocket watches, arrowheads, a large seashell, and an heirloom quilt. A 1938 sepia tint photo shows Lula May as a young mother, standing on a windblown beach, with a child at her feet. Other family members also appear in Wolf’s creations.

“I became avidly interested in their struggle for survival and how they were able to push through and move on to better things, when times got tough for them,” Wolf said. “I wasn’t quite sure what to focus my project on, but writing the essay helped me figure that out.”

Wolf with her "Family Tree" sculpture

Another prominent piece within Wolf’s “Strong Roots” exhibit is a sculpture of a tree rising out of the pages of a book. The work, “Family Tree,” serves as a visual metaphor, she said.

For Sakurai, the intricate work of beading or sculpting jewelry echoes the same multiple dimensions, colors and facets of her personal history, studying abroad beginning at age 15 and traveling to more than 10 countries. One work she will display is a handmade dress designed from egg shells and other unique materials. According to Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art, Sakurai has been working on the dress for over a year.

Sakurai's eggshell dress creation

“As I see something, I often find a connection between it and something I remembered [from my travel or study], which gives me a new layer of knowledge,” Sakurai said. “Different objects or ideas are connected through my interpretation. This makes my world muti-colored and multi-faceted, like a well-polished crystal and also stimulates me in combining both traditional and contemporary styles and concepts of art.”

During her January Field Period™ with a jewelry designer, Sakurai handcrafted her own unique gold necklace, and that experience ultimately led her to the Metal and Jewelry graduate program at Rochester Institute of Technology, where she will begin taking courses this fall.

Just this year, Keuka College began offering a new Art and Design program, providing more studio courses to give students opportunities to learn skills in a greater number of mediums. The increased diversity helps students build a portfolio with greater breadth, as well as develop strengths in a particular area, Newcomb said.

“In this case we have three seniors displaying work in multiple mixed mediums, which shows a range of experiences not only in their skills and abilities,” Newcomb said. “It also becomes a very personal but rewarding way to share their story, whether it relates to the past, present or future.”

Keuka’s Family Tree

Keuka College now has a family tree, thanks to Huong (Haley) Nguyen ’13.

Nguyen, who spent the last two years in Keuka Park after beginning her studies at Keuka’s partner university Vietnam National University International School in Hanoi, wanted to say ‘thank you’ to her professors, advisers, supervisors, and others who work at the College.

Reflecting on what it means to be a student, she came up with the idea to create a family tree.

“As a student, I go to school and get knowledge so I can help create the future,” said Nguyen. “And I think of each human’s life as a tree, in that we’re growing up every day. Our trees cannot grow up without the help and support from everyone from Keuka College. They are the key factors who make us learn, do, dream, and become more.”

Nguyen’s tree features the names of everyone who works at the College. She utilized Photoshop, using the names to form the trunk, branches and leaves. Tamara Ingram, ESL academic skills counselor, said Nguyen’s image was used for thank you cards.

“Haley and other members of the Keuka College International Club had the cards available for students to write thank you notes to members of the staff and faculty,” said Ingram. “Then, members of the club distributed them.”

Nguyen said she “wanted to create something special at the end of the school year to pay my respect to those who dedicated themselves for us (students). Even if I don’t know them, I know they’re still working every day to support me, my studies and activities, as well as the studies and activities of all other students.”

She is particularly thankful for her faculty members.

“The marketing program at Keuka is really good,” she said. “All of my professors have inspired me, and they made me think hard about my future. They made me want to go further, study harder, and become better. I really appreciate all things that they did for me and for all Keuka students.”

Nguyen said she won’t forget her two years at Keuka, or the “incredible” friends she’s made, especially her “adviser Allison [Schultz, international student adviser], Tamara, and Lisa [Marciniak, assistant director of international enrollment], as well as others who work in Geiser, student activities, multicultural affairs.

“If my future career is a tree,” said Nguyen, “they will be the solid roots that help my tree be strong, and stay strong in face of life’s challenges.”