Seniors get a chance to strut their stuff
Northern Kentucky University opened the second half of this year’s fall BFA Senior Show with six seniors displaying their artwork ranging from graphic design, painting, screen printing and ceramics.
Dustin Pike explores the power of commercial art and how it influences society. Pike, a graphic design major, approaches his work as a fine artist, concentrating on screen printing, mixed media and painting. His work is powerful and “loud,” barraging audiences with bold colors and images.
“Today you can’t really get anybody’s attention by doing something really quiet. You have to be sort of loud about it,” Pike said. “And that’s just how we are; we’re sort of a loud culture. So we got lots of colors and lots of things coming at us all the time from every angle.”
His designs explore the use of color, image placement, mass production, and the role of desire and power in current culture. Pike’s early experiences with graffiti art make a definite appearance in his work through the use of bright colors, playfulness with text and his artistic attitude of waking up the viewer with a powerful message.
“Designers are really sort of psychologists in a way. So we know how the human mind thinks and what it’s attracted to,” Pike said. “And often times design is used as sort of a weapon. And I’m trying to counteract or make people think about what design really should be or what it is today.”
Maggie Siebel, a graphic design major, created a brewing company called “Four Dogs.” Siebel’s body of work focuses on the creation of promotional posters, materials and packaging for the company.
The flavors and packages were influenced by the personalities of four dogs that she knows. The packages are whimsical, in that they are shaped like dog houses. When deciding on the color concept of the packages, she wanted to stay away from typical colors used in beer products such as red and blue. Instead, she plays with shades of purple, teal, olive and orange to give the products a sense of playfulness.
Mayme Kemplin is working towards a BFA in ceramics. Her work focuses on the notion of how humans are so overwhelmed with the rapidity of the world that they forget to take moments to appreciate the natural world around them.
By using birds as her focal point, Kemplin explores the commonalities between the structure of a bird’s world and the world of humans.
“They have family trees, inner networks and they’re all individuals with little personalities. As small as it is, we as humans can relate to those really basic commonalities,” Kemplin said. “And that’s really what I’m looking to do; to reconnect us creatures as being connected as basic creatures of habit. And really taking a break from the hustle and bustle and being in the moment.”
Kemplin works with both clay and glass. She has been working as an artist for approximately 10 years and finds a lot of value in the art-making process.
“It is a release for the soul. It’s therapeutic,” Kemplin said. “I work my life out through it. And it helps me to stay connected. I’m manipulating earth materials and playing with stardust to glaze them. It’s just a lot of fun.”
Alicia Laake, a graphic design major, created a fashion boutique called “Kaleidoscope” and its promotional materials. As part of her project Laake created a catalog and a flash-based web site. As for the inspiration for her company, she looked at her own sense of style, a combination of different styles and brought aspects of that into her work.
“The idea with ‘Kaleidoscope’ was that it embraces a variety of styles, diversities and patterns, even if they don’t go together,” Laake said. “It’s just that broad scope of several different things that you can find there. And that’s why I chose the name ‘Kaleidoscope.’”
Dustin Flowers, a graphic design major, exhibited three hand-printed park posters, trail maps and illustrations that he created. Flowers explored shape and colors that were representative of the landscape and terrain of each park. The concept of this body of work was to update and redesign posters and maps to reflect how the landscape has changed over time. Part of the reasoning behind this project was so more people will visit public parks. “I wanted to give them more motivation or inspiration to do that,” Flowers said.
Joe Hedges, a studio art major with an emphasis in painting, explores the personal aspects of his life and the process of painting itself. Hedges creates his artwork from photographs and real-life interactions.
“I paint a lot people that I know, people that are around me and things that I care about,” Hedges said. “I’m interested also in the experience of painting itself. So a lot of these paintings are about how the medium sits on the surface, how the colors interact.”
For Hedges, a lot of the enjoyment of painting is the process itself. By experimenting with turpentine, the use of wax and different forms of mediums, he explores the act of creating art. Hedges’ artistic endeavors also encompass music and photography. Hedges has known for some time that he was going to be an artist.
“I feel like it’s a little cliche, but that it wasn’t much of a choice for me,” Hedges said. “As long as I can remember from when I was a kid, 12 or 13, I had already pretty much decided that drawing and art-making was the thing that I loved to do. That’s always brought me a sense of fulfillment and gratification.”
The BFA gallery show runs from Dec. 2 through Dec. 10. The exhibit is located at the Fine Arts Building at NKU in the Main Gallery. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.