Presbyterian College Senior Art Exhibit Opens With Reception


David Nguyen, Staff Writer

The senior art exhibit opened in Harper Center on March 11, 2011, and the art department held the reception at 5:00 PM. The senior artists on display included Nancy Cooper, Erin Tharpe, Charla Price, Moses Nester, and Beth Dallas. This reporter attended the reception, observed the artwork, and spoke with the senior artists about their exhibits and inspiration.
Nancy Cooper’s art exhibit used many dark and red colors, and her pieces often featured an abandoned Sloss furnace in Birmingham. She said, “The works in this series grow out of an appreciation for the old and abandoned.” While unused objects are an eyesore to many, to others they represent memories of a better time. Much of her art was a commentary on modern culture’s obsession with the new. Society upgrades its technology and then abandons the old. She mentioned how much of her inspiration came from the artist Helen Frankenthaler, so those who enjoy Nancy’s art might find it interesting to explore Frankenthaler’s art as well.
Erin Tharpe’s pieces were the products of some impressive performance art that was displayed on a television. The artist herself even gave a demonstration of her performance art during the reception. When interviewed about how she came to creating her pieces, Erin mentioned that she originally struggled with what to do for her senior art exhibit. She talked with [art teacher] who suggested Erin do performance art given her background in dance and gymnastics. Erin initially rejected this advice, but the idea of combining dance and gymnastics with abstract expressionism grew on her. This reporter asked how Erin came to name her abstract pieces, and she mentioned how the mood of the music she performed to and how the paint went on the canvas helped her find a name for each piece.
Charla Price’s exhibit had several spiders on display. When asked about these pieces, she said, “I’ve always kind of been obsessed with spiders.” At one point, she picked up a magnolia bud and thought it would make a great spider abdomen. Charla began working on her first piece which was untitled. She made several other spiders, trying to capture different angles, and someone suggested that she try wrapping the spiders’ legs with cloth. She tried this and began painting their legs too. Charla’s other works were more conventional oils on canvas. “Van Gough is a huge inspiration for me,” she commented. Charla saw his paintings in New York and especially enjoyed Van Gough’s landscapes. Her own Landscape was created with Van Gough’s style in mind, including his use of texture.
Moses Nester’s exhibit included some interesting integration of chemistry into his art, specifically the chemical structure of certain molecules. Other pieces used guns to make them. On this, Moses said, “The whole reason I did these pieces is because I wanted to take something used to destroy, and use it to create.” His exhibit was also littered with covered wooden panels explaining how his art was created and why he was inspired to make that piece. The idea was to have initial perceptions shifted by the new context. For this, his exhibit was called Context. When asked on which artists inspired him, he mentioned that Chuck Close’s use of grids was the basis for his own pieces: Roll the Bones and Self Portrait.
Finally, Beth Dallas’s exhibit used “an emotionally charged, bright, and commanding color palette.” The bright colors provided a refreshing contrast to much of the senior art exhibit. Like Moses, she drew from Chuck Close in her use of strict grids and playful colors. The organic and geometric combinations were drawn from Jennifer Bartlett’s work. She emphasized that her art focused on the “relationship between strict grid lines and flowy curves, a convergence of opposites.” Beth also said that she was inspired by the self-reflection and simplicity of George O’Keefe.
To close, this reporter would like to emphasize that all of the senior artists did amazing jobs. Due to the subjective nature of the art, the reader may appreciate some artists more than others (this reporter did), but there is very much something for everybody at the exhibit. So go check out Harper Center and see the art of the senior class.