As the latest exhibition at the Yale School of Art draws to a close, a group of seniors is preparing for the final critique of their undergraduate artistic career.
The Yale 2015 Undergraduate Art Thesis Show, which began last Tuesday and ends tonight, showcases the works of 20 senior art majors and features many different media, ranging from digital installations and graphic designs to sculptures and photographs. Today, the students will have their work judged by a panel of professors in the second round of critiques, which began yesterday. As the show may be their last one at Yale, featured artists interviewed said it represents a rare glimpse into the professional arts world by allowing students to work outside the boundaries of the classroom.
“What’s good about this final assessment is being able to find out whether your work can operate independently without you being there to explain it,” said David Shatan-Pardo ’15, a participant in the show. “In the real world it operates like that — a work is in the gallery, a piece of design is in public space and it can’t be supported by its creator.”
According to Lian Fumerton-Liu ’15, another participant in the show, there is no overarching theme that binds the works in the exhibition together. Rather, she explained, the show highlights each artist’s individual chosen concentration and forms of self-expression. Victoria Pierre ’15 said her piece depicts the naiveté and misconceptions of young men going off to war. Christina Martin ’15 said her photographs explore how a woman’s identity is perceived based on the way she looks and the context in which she is seen. Because each artist has a unique style, the show is an amalgamation of all the artists’ skills, Fumerton-Liu noted.
All five artists interviewed highlighted the freedom that students can exercise in making artwork for the exhibition. Though assignments often require specific responses, Shatan-Pardo said he was able to exercise full control over every aspect of this project.
“For all of us, it was a matter of making work that embodied everything we’ve been working for over the past few years,” Fumerton-Liu said. “It’s not like making another thing to add to our portfolio but really making something that is the culmination of everything.”
Martin said the largest challenge in preparing her work for the gallery was altering making alterations so that it would fit in the allotted gallery space. She noted that she ultimately submitted 11 photos instead of 20 because her portion of the gallery space did not have enough room.
But Pierre said her greatest difficulty was finishing her piece in time, as her four-minute long animated short story required more than 2,000 frame-by-frame colored drawings and roughly 60 painted backgrounds.
“I finished the work on the last possible day, in typical Yalie fashion,” Pierre said. “As for the animation itself, one of the most difficult things was to at once make the narrative understandable, but avoid making it too corny or obvious, especially without dialogue.”
Shatan-Pardo said that as the featured artists will not be able to accompany their works and explain their meaning to the panel of critics, he is nervous to see how well his work will stand alone without his own narration.
Yale’s undergraduate art major offers five concentrations: graphic design, filmmaking, photography, sculpture, painting and printmaking.