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Senior art thesis exhibit focuses on storytelling

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"In the Brambles" by Eva Kocieniewski

“Story Telling,” the senior art thesis exhibition in Cummings Gallery at Mercyhurst University, features the final art projects of seven graduating seniors. The show is on display April 5-May 4.

Join the artists at a reception on Saturday, April 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the gallery. The reception is free and open to the public.

Shannon Abernathy, a graphic design major who was mentored by Gary Cardot, exhibits a series of archival inkjet print photographs. “This series of architectural studies shows the unique and complex beauty of these historical and unique buildings that I have always been intrigued by in Buffalo, New York, and Erie, Pennsylvania. To show this I focused on the elements of design, such as color and patterns,” she explains.

Jeff Annunziata is a graphic design major mentored by Jodi Staniunas Hopper. He exhibits digitally manipulated prints on canvas. He says, “Each person has their own story. In most cases we each have an endless amount of stories to tell. Some have been told many times and some haven't been told at all. These double-exposure portraits tell these stories. Each piece tells you something about the person, about their story. It could be something that is dear to them or maybe even something they do that is a major part of their life. Whatever it may be is reflected in their portrait as it fades through and is exposed for you, the viewer, to look into and wonder about.”

Kelly Fergus, an art education major mentored by Tom Hubert, exhibits a mixed media piece that incorporates books as a staircase. Her piece, titled “Always Ascending,” represents the six stages of Victor Lowenfeld’s Stages of Artistic Development. “As an educator, I’m guiding my students up those stages. If I’m successful, they will always want to ascend,” Fergus says.

Meagan Gross, an art education major mentored by Jodi Staniunas Hopper, exhibits “Once Upon A Time.” The multimedia sculpture “uses the block poetry method on old book pages to depict old fairytales. One of my favorite things about art is storytelling because storytelling is universal and so are fairytales. All cultures around the world have a fairytale or folklore to teach their people something that is worth passing down the generations. My piece is to show people how storytelling has impacted their own life by being able the recognize stories by just a few words of poetry and some familiar images.”

Eva Kocieniewski, an art therapy major and psychology minor who was mentored by Dan Burke, exhibits mixed media works. “I am always drawn toward nature and the relationships in the natural world of life and death, the grotesque and the beautiful and the ornate and organic. I usually work smaller, mainly with ink and very controlled, but I wanted to go beyond that. I used this opportunity as a way to challenge myself and to develop my own style using different ways of creating.”

Sabiha Mahmud Sumi, a graphic design major mentored by Jodi Staniunas Hopper, exhibits bright digital archival canvas prints. She says that the Bangla translations for the word "woman" cater to a range of patriarchal expectations of the supposed 'cultural' roles of a woman, such as being a maid, housewife, Mrs., prostitute, homemaker, mother, etc. Her series, “I am a Woman,” challenges the preconceived roles that revolve around a woman's marital status, and tells the story of each translation as it liberates itself from the role and embraces the identity of a woman.

The series draws its inspiration primarily from Nimisha Bhanot’s paintings of Indian pin-ups that feature women breaking Indian stereotypes and challenge age-old patriarchal ways of Indian society. The original self-portraits are drawn from a photoshoot directed by the designer, and photographed by Bangladeshi fashion photographer Nirjon.

Rachel Mergenthaler, an art education major with a minor in art therapy, was mentored by Dan Burke. Her work explores color and the expressiveness of color. “From far away, my artworks give the impression of a certain color but if you look closely, they contain more colors than is expected,” she says. “These works focus on the beauty of color and the way color is perceived. This focus on color and its basic necessity is one way formalist artists brought art to its core elements. I wanted to expose the importance of color and its complexity as well, so I knew that I had to pursue simple forms to draw attention to the color rather than the form.”

Cummings Gallery, located in the lobby of the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center, is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 2 to 5 p.m. The gallery will be closed for Easter Break April 13-17.

For more information, contact gallery director Heather Dana at 814-824-2092.