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“Close At Hand” Senior Art Exhibition (with PHOTOS)

Refreshments served outside of the "Close At Hand" senior art exhibition for the opening reception. (All photos by Chardonnay Hightower-Collins)
Refreshments served outside of the “Close At Hand” senior art exhibition for the opening reception. (All photos by Chardonnay Hightower-Collins)

A large group of people surrounded artist Sarah Depol’s interesting combination of trash and acrylic on salvaged wooden panels, admiring the colors and composition of each pile of art. Like Depol, eight other artists dedicated tons of time and effort to create pieces of art that reflected their talents and inspirations.

People from the Mills and Bay Area community gathered in the Mills College Art Museum (MCAM) for the opening reception on Saturday, April 5 to view all of the artwork by this year’s undergraduate seniors. The exhibition pulled in an energetic and supportive crowd who engaged in conversations amongst the artists and visitors.

Sarah Depol's piece made of salvaged materials and acrylic on wooden panels.
Sarah Depol’s piece made of salvaged materials and acrylic on wooden panels.

The Senior Thesis Exhibition was on display from April 1 – 20, 2014. The artists included Lora ChauDavis, Vanessa Cisneros, Sarah Depol, Kate Rose, Bridget Shaw, Minna Smith, Bridget Stagnitto, Anna Torres and Christina Yglesias.

This Spring’s Senior Art Show, titled “Close at Hand,” showcased different mediums of art from recycled items to video installations and paintings.

The title of the show came from a combination of all the different types of art that were displayed. Since each artist’s work was quite different, they had to carefully think of a title that would bring their work together, all while emphasizing their shared talent — the use of their hands to create their pieces.

Minna Smith's archival inkjet prints, "Better Homes #1-3."
Minna Smith’s archival inkjet prints, “Better Homes #1-3.”

Minna Smith took an interesting approach to inkjet prints and video for her thesis.

For her inkjet piece titled Better Homes, Smith displayed ordinary yet detailed photos of different parts of a kitchen. There were three different photos on canvases lined next to each other. While it might seem simple from afar, you really got a grasp of the familiarity of the spaces up close. For example, the middle photo showed an open kitchen cabinet, but when you look closely you can see pasted pictures and the detail on the chinaware inside the cabinet walls.

Smith mentioned that time was a huge obstacle to face while preparing for the show.

“There were a lot of sleepless nights, but we all got through it somehow,” she said.

A crowd gathered at the exhibition.
A crowd gathered at the exhibition.

Teamwork was also a crucial aspect of the production. Not only were the artists responsible for their own work, but they aided their peers as well.

“We all had so much to do, so really we were mostly there for each other for moral support,” Christina Yglesias said. “We could go to each other for feedback.”

According to Yglesias’ website, her multi-channel video installation The Looks of Love, “appropriate[d] archetypal romance movies that span nearly one hundred years of American cinematic history.”

With five projectors displaying various romance films such as Twilight without the use of sound, Yglesias’ piece placed extra attention to detail in every selected scene.

Christina Yglesias’ video installation, The Looks of Love. (Photo courtesy of the Mills College Art Museum Facebook page)
Christina Yglesias’ video installation, The Looks of Love. (Photo courtesy of the Mills College Art Museum Facebook page)

Another example of the art shown was Vanessa Cisneros’ piece, which involved a myriad of triangles strung together, wrapping around a wall in the Museum, then constructed into a 3D form made with wooden stick pieces. The wooden pieces were botched together and strung along to stand out amongst the bare white wall.

Though the wooden triangles were fairly large, Cisneros managed to connect each piece together and build each triangle on top of each other, making a grand geometric piece of art.

Vanessa Cisneros' "Secondary Xylem" made of wood.
Vanessa Cisneros’ “Secondary Xylem” made of wood.

First-year intermedia arts student Laura Elizarraras was inspired by the seniors’ pieces and enjoyed viewing their artwork during the opening reception.

“Attending the Intermedia Arts Senior Thesis Exhibition really gave me a better sense of what I can do in the future in general, but also for my own thesis,” Elizarraras said. “Having shows like this is beneficial for the student that created the work, students following their steps and the general audience because these seniors can finally showcase a piece that they have put hard work and dedication into, as well as possibly get connections with visiting artists.”

During the show’s production process, Studio Art Professor Anna Valentina Murch, who was very involved with the senior exhibition, passed away on March 26. Though the students were saddened by her passing, they managed to put on a show that would have made her proud.

“Anna was a truly gifted artist, a committed teacher and a wonderful colleague,” said Kimberley Phillips, Mills provost and dean of faculty. “She mentored undergraduate and graduate students with the same energy that she put into her own work. Right up until the end she was concerned about her students and their futures in the art world.”

Despite Murch’s passing, the students were able to finish strong and remember all of the positive impacts that Murch made on Mills and her students.

Anna Torres' archival pigment prints, "One Hundred Years of Solitude."
Anna Torres’ archival pigment prints, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

The MCAM has open hours on Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. They are closed on Mondays.

MCAM is free and open to the public. For more information, call 510-430-2164.

The opening reception for the MFA exhibition, “Mixed Messages,” will be this Saturday, May 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. and will run from May 4 – 25.