Senior Bachelor of Fine Arts students at Keene State College don’t get the chance to kick back with “senioritis.” The Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery awaits their in-progress work to storm through this coming April. From charcoal to ceramics and sculpture to oil paints, the diversity in students’ work anticipates exhibitions throughout the Thorne.
During their final two semesters at KSC, BFA students show off their intricate creations for all to see. Seth Kaiser shows his hard work and love for art in ceramics.
“There’s an inherent magic, an alchemy if you will, to ceramics,” Kaiser said. “The act of taking mud, which is essentially what clay is, and molding or crafting opulent beauty and treasures of it really captivates me.” Kaiser explained the goal of his art is to give a complete experience to the viewer. “Visually, sensually, just all over,” he said, “There’s a certain energy while creating and you just go with it. I don’t want people to recognize symbols, I’m completely non-objective.” From his expressive vases to a salt-glazed abstract vase, Kaiser and BFA students’ work for their exhibition began in the fall 2012 semester, giving 30 weeks to create and complete their debut display.
“Depending on what I’m working on, it [one piece] can take from a week to three weeks, and that depends on a lot too,” Kaiser said. From this exhibit, Kaiser said he and other students hope to break the idea of a ‘starving artist’ and is hopeful of a good turn out to the end-of-the-year show. While Kaiser’s creative work is “regardless of reason,” as he describes it, sculptor Nick King’s work is about animals and the “concept of humans and animals being on an even plane rather than humans being separate,” King said. One sculpture King said he started in September but most likely will not finish until the show rolls around because of its intricacy.
“It’s a snake eating its own tail. It’s a symbol used in a lot of different culture,” King said, “but in Norse mythology, the giant snake is wrapped around the earth with his tail in his mouth and when the snake lets go, the world ends.” King said he is fascinated by the myth that people worshipped the snake. “People don’t worship animals anymore. I wanted to put the snake back in the light of worship and admiration.”
As King has drawn and painted ever since he had the motor skills to do so, he said he never thought of himself as a sculptor until his first sculpture class sophomore year of college. “I thought it was challenging and interesting,” King said, “I just feel like there’s a lot more possibility working in three dimensions rather than two.” Moving in a direction different from the molding of pottery and sculpture, Caitlin Stearns portrays her talent through elaborate oil paintings. Whether it is of a boy in aviator sunglasses seemingly deep in thought or a girl laughing with her hands in the air, Stearns’ hard work will also be on display in the Thorne. Stearns’ upcoming showcase is a series of paintings deriving from photographs, taken by her, of college life. “My work shows what I’m interested in,” she said. “Viewers don’t know what my relationship with the people in the photos is, but maybe they can look at the pieces and, to some level, take a look at what it’s been like here [Keene State College] for me,” Stearns said. Stearns plans to have five or six of her four-by-five feet works of art in the upcoming exhibit.
About ten feet over from Stearns’ studio space on the third floor of the Redfern, Emma Fairweather’s 42×55 inch charcoal pieces decorate the right side of the room.
“I’m a drawer more than anything,” Fairweather said. Fairweather said she was born and raised in Detroit, Mich. and that’s where her inspiration comes from—abandoned parts of the city that people wouldn’t normally convey as beautiful. “In art, people always paint or draw pictures of people or things they see as beautiful, so I didn’t want to be stereotypical,” she said. “I love the different walks of life, the rundown, dirty, almost scary things,” Fairweather said. “It’s stuff that’s in my memory.”
Senior Emory Cooper is also creating her exhibit based off of aspects of her life and memory that inspire her most. Cooper said that she will have a total of four pieces featured in the student exhibit–three large-scale collages and one sculpture. These large-scale collages are made out of magazine and advertisement pages that are ripped out and then glued onto the canvas. Cooper said she was inspired by spending her time out west in the Teton Mountain Range located in Jackson Hole, Wyo. As these students have been and continue to strive through their artwork, advisors like KSC professor Jon Gitelson have ambitions toward the final display at the Thorne as well.
“The idea is, it’s the first time that students have the opportunity to really self-design a body of work,” he said. For this showcase, the key word is self-design. “I don’t give assignments,” Gitelson said. “I just try to guide them without telling them what to do.”
“For me, working with students one on one is one of the most rewarding things we can do as teachers,” Gitelson said. Senior Dana Ward, will also be displaying his work in the student exhibit. Ward’s work primarily focuses on ceramics. But, Ward is just one of the many students whose work is expected to appear in KSC’s Thorne Art Gallery on April 19.
Rebecca Farr can be contacted at