With COVID-19 precautions in place, Albion College’s annual Senior Art Exhibition is going virtual through the art department’s Instagram page beginning Thursday. The Senior Art Exhibition is a capstone requirement for all art majors to graduate.
Each senior’s piece is usually displayed in Bobbit Visual Arts Center. Since being on campus is no longer an option, the six graduating art majors will each have an assigned date to showcase their artwork and ideas with as many posts as they like.
Meet the Seniors:
Payge Rumler is from Albion, Mich. and an art major with a concentration in the Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management. Rumler’s goal in her artwork is to foster comradery and to share her story with others.
As Rumler describes, her current work displays a personal narrative of her long-term relationship with body image. It is also a product of relevant research in historical and contemporary feminist studies, such as male gaze, the history of fashion and nutritional science.
Rumler said she created an obsessive relationship with her body at a young age, which led her through experiences including dieting, an eating disorder, low and high self-esteem and objectification.
“This obsession has morphed throughout my life on a spectrum between healthy and self-abusive behavior,” said Rumler via email. “I intend to be vulnerable and honest with those experiences so that other girls and women may benefit from my work in one way or another, as I know I have by creating it.”
Rumler intends to apply to workshops and artist residencies to continue her work and artistic skills. She also hopes to create an art gallery to showcase her own artwork and display the artwork of others as well.
Demetrios Scott, from Saginaw, Mich., is an art major with a minor in art history and a concentration in ceramic sculpting. Scott creates his work in series, but each sculpture is unique in scale, gesture and placement to differently express each emotional state he plans to convey.
“I like to consider my work almost like a diary or journal,” said Scott via email. “The raw of the clay both conforms to my touch and reacts against it, in a similar way nature takes control of an object and transforms it over time. It can be beautiful, unique or tortured, and worn.”
In one of Scott’s favorite wall pieces, titled “Day 47: Spelunking,” he used a common thread to connect small, distinct individual pieces in order to depict a whole picture. It took Scott the entirety of the semester up until the COVID-19 Stay Home, Stay Safe order to complete, including a plethora of trials for glaze testing.
Scott plans to start the DeVos MBA program at Northwood University in Midland, Mich. in the fall, where he will continue his artistic endeavors in ceramics and volunteer at the Saginaw Art Museum and Midland Center for the Arts.
“Art is, and will always be, a very important part of my life,” said Scott.
Rachel Schott, from Temperance, Mich., is an art and psychology double major. Schott is a figurative artist who utilizes the form of painting, drawing and photography as a means of self-exploration and expression to communicate her struggles of being, as she said, a masculine female in a binary society.
Each piece of artwork reveals a personal connection to Schott, whether it be a memory of her childhood or the ambiguous definition of what it means to be a woman in the United States. She also captures the complexities of gender and emotions that are endured with an incongruous identity, such as confusion and chaos. She hopes that her audience can feel her pain and frustration brought from the strict gender roles enforced in Western cultures.
“If you’re a man, you’re expected to act and behave according to masculine norms,” said Schott via email. “If you’re a woman, you’re expected to act and behave according to feminine norms, but these rules invalidate those of us who don’t intrinsically conform. Our lives become a balancing act of trying to deter social rejection while trying to maintain an authentic identity.”
Schott said that art taught her how to transfer her artistic expression skills to numerous aspects in her life as it healed most of her personal struggles. She will continue to use art as outlet and plans to pursue a PhD in Developmental Psychology to study gender development in gender nonconforming youth.
Katie Warren, from Kalamazoo, Mich., is an art and business major with a minor in French. Her childhood memories spent in the Great Lakes State inspired her passion to encompass the lake towns and water through her artwork.
Throughout her time surrounded by water, she created personal connections with inanimate objects, such as lighthouses, and she challenges her audience to form their own connections.
“I focus on subject matter that can be seen around water: boats, lighthouses, to a day on the lake,” said Warren via email. “I use the symbolism of a lighthouse to allow the viewer to interpret their own meaning behind an object like a beacon of light.”
After graduation, Warren plans to pursue a business-related career and would like to incorporate her artistic and creative background. She also plans to find a print studio to continue her personal artwork
Richelle Hawkins, from Detroit, Mich., is an art studio major. Her sculptures represent a lack of confidence influenced by the emotional abuse and growth she experienced as a young woman. She hopes that her artwork helps others gain strength from their similar experiences.
“I was underweight, and my peers would try to hurt me emotionally,” said Hawkins via email. “But through this, it allowed my confidence to grow. When others see my work I hope for them to reminisce about a time when they were down and felt no way out but because of that situation it made them a better and stronger person.”
Hawkins currently works with her parents in their financial services business, where she plans to continue working after Albion College. Later down the road, Hawkins hopes to open a ceramic or craft shop for kids in Detroit.
Scott Wistinghausen, from Hartland, Mich., is a studio arts and finance major with a visual arts concentration in representational oil painting. His artwork addresses the dangers and tragedies of toxic masculinity.
Wistinghausen said that he has felt the pressure to conform to the rigid attributes of a man’s masculinity, such as, assertion, sexual prowess and stoicism throughout his life to gain acceptance from others. At times, he has felt that he has no individual choice to be his authentic self because he feels that he must meet society’s expectations.
Toxic masculinity is defined by the traditional male gender roles that limit a male’s emotional expression. Wistinghausen’s goal is to inform people about toxic masculinity, to encourage other men to be their authentic selves and to influence a change in masculine culture.
“Performative masculinity manifests itself through emotional detachment, compensation, and the emasculation of others,” said Wistinghausen via email. “I believe our culture has institutionalized toxic masculinity by way of the patriarchy, systemic bigotry and the rape culture we live in.”
After graduating, Wistinghausen plans to pursue an MFA in studio art and become a tenured educator of oil painting at the collegiate level to help create an accepting and understanding culture for future generations.
If you find yourself in need of a break studying for finals follow the art department @ac_artandarthistory on Instagram to tune-in on the Senior Art Exhibition.
Student takeover schedule:
Thursday, April 23: Payge Rumler
Friday, April 24: Demetrios Scott
Saturday, April 25: Rachel Schott
Sunday, April 26: Katie Warren
Monday, April 27: Richelle Hawkins
Tuesday, April 28: Scott Wistinghausen