Senior art and design shows this May

This May, four Maryville College seniors will be showcasing their senior thesis works in the various Clayton Center for the Arts’ galleries. Casey Clarke, Brandi Payne, Nadia Marrero-Silva and Andrew Trotter will all have their displays up from May 7-17. During regular gallery hours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, anyone is welcome to come see the exhibits. There will also be a collective reception held May 17, which will begin at 6 p.m. and last until 8 p.m.

Hailing From Maryville, Casey Clarke is an art major whose show is titled “Shenanigans” and will be displayed in the La Dolce Vita Gallery. Made with a combination of acrylic paints and colored pencils, her portrait pieces are larger at 32 inches by 40 inches with an overall theme that includes onesie-clad figures with neutral facial expressions.  

“I do wish to invoke a feeling of thoughtfulness and mystery,” said Clarke, who said she feels that onesies are comfortable and simple, yet they have the ability to create an “element of mystery” about the wearer. That being said, Clarke said she finds herself primarily attracted to other portraiture artists.

“I am very influenced by some of my favorite artists, who also focus on portraits and the human form such as Kehinde Wiley, Elly Smallwood and Alyssa Monks,” she said. Her style is not necessarily the same as these artists, but it has certainly been inspired by them.

Unlike many other artists, Clarke actually includes herself within her works. Because she likes to work from photographs, Clarke enjoys finding an intriguing photo from which to paint.

“I think it’s important as an artist to be able to draw or paint yourself well and be comfortable doing so in order to draw other people,” Clarke said. She has actually painted herself into three of her four main works. Clarke also often chooses to include certain objects that represent her, and they are typically things she either loves or hates.

One of Clarke’s pieces pictures her dressed in a reindeer onesie holding candy canes; however, she admitted that Christmas is actually her least favorite holiday. Another piece depicts her alongside some wine while wearing some of her favorite shoes. As she creates, however, Clarke enjoys drinking tea and listening to music.

“I don’t have a specific genre or artist I listen to that gets me in the artistic mood, because I love all kinds of music,” she said. “However, Modest Mouse is one of my favorite bands, and they never fail to provide me with the right energy to work on a piece.”

With a sense of irony, Clarke’s portraits combine playful onesies with facial expressions one might expect to find in traditional portraiture.

Nadia Marrero-Silva, a design major originally from Clarksville, Tennessee, will be displaying her show in the William “Ed” Harmon Gallery. Titled “The Fall of Raguel,” Marrero-Silva’s pieces are primarily large-scale, printed digital works. Other additional decorative elements will form her entire display.

With imagery of an angel named Raguel, Marrero-Silva’s works represent a story based on a personal experience involving the loss of a partner. An angel of vengeance, Raguel goes through “the fall” trying to save the other main character represented, Jedidiah.

“The idea for my senior show was inspired by a relationship I had with someone who passed away last year,” Marrero-Silva said. “I still have the same idea that I had, but it kind of shifted to almost be a reflection of how I was feeling in the aftermath and the process of just trying to come to terms with it.”  

Initially, her idea first formed after writing two lines of poetry one day while thinking of her partner. Within the works, Marrero-Silva has symbolized herself through the angel, while Jedidiah is meant to represent her partner’s passing.

“This was all kind of based off of that process of dealing with those feelings and just my long-term obsession with religious art,” she said. With a reference to religious ideas, Marrero-Silva’s body of work exhibits a rather geometric style and form reminiscent of stained glass.

Design major Brandi Payne, from Sevierville, Tennessee, will be displaying all 86 pages of her digitally created comic titled “Everjoy, Illinois” in the DENSO gallery. The comic’s storyline follows two best friends named Violet and Donna as they learn “tricks” from a local fortune teller one summer in Everjoy, however, things don’t turn out as expected.

“This involved a lot of plot outlining and scripting, which is different from what I usually do,” Payne said. “I normally come up with dialogue on the spot. This is only the first volume too, and it’s planned to be about three times longer.” She drew the main characters sort-of randomly one day, and the story was then built around them.

Through time, she has found inspiration in comics from the ‘90s as well as modern ones. Payne has always enjoyed magic or sci-fi related themes, which is an evident element in her work.

“As I draw, I listen to the same five artists I’ve listened to since I was 12 years old– Kishi Bashi and Radical Face,” Payne said. “Both of them have actually been inspirational because their songs are like storytelling too.”

Amidst a style reminiscent of comics and typically more rounded in nature, Payne includes many different representations of the human form in her work, which creates a great diversity between the characters.

“It’s entertainment, but it’s comics for everyone,” Payne said regarding the message behind her comice. “It’s just for all kids to enjoy having girls be the protagonists or antagonists, and it’s also displaying a bunch of different sexualities and gender identities in a kids’ comic too.”

With an undoubtedly interesting storyline, this body of work is inclusive and kid friendly, it seems. Also considered an exemplary thesis, “Everjoy, Illinois” will soon continue as a web comic, and you can find more information or keep up to date with it by checking out @everjoyillinois on Twitter.

Andrew Trotter, a design major originally from the Knoxville area will be displaying his “Tiny House Design” in the Blackberry Farm Gallery. His display will include a scale representation of a rather intricate tiny house meant to exemplify the positive aspects of owning a tiny house.  

“The model is 4 feet by 1 foot, 2 feet tall and big enough to add detail,” Trotter said. Originally, Trotter wanted to build a full-size tiny house, but a scaled-down structure proved to be more feasible. The model does include many meticulously placed features one would naturally find in a tiny home from mini countertops to windows.

“Realistically, it’s 28 feet long and only 8.5 feet wide so that it could legally fit on the road,” Trotter said. “It could only be 13.5 feet high.”

At 230 square feet, a constructed version of his model would be movable at these specifications, which only adds to Trotter’s idea of tiny homes being accessible for many types of people. If Trotter’s tiny house were actually constructed, he estimates that it would cost around $23,000.

“This project is showcasing that [a tiny house] is something that can be attractive,” Trotter said. “It’s not like living in a closet. It was also neat to compare the average cost of a tiny house to the average home. 60 percent of tiny home owners have no mortgage compared to 29.3% of all US homeowners.”

With more of an interest in architecture, Trotter found inspiration in the designs of Tumbleweed Tiny House, a company that does “great work,” according to Trotter. He is also generally inspired by his parents.

“More or less, it’s a solution to a lot of overdevelopment we see around here,” Trotter said. “I think it’s a good tool we could use to aid the population, especially low income individuals.”

With the idea that a minimal style of living can still be attractive, Trotter has offered quite a valid point by exemplifying the many benefits of tiny homes. It could definitely be something to consider as many students move on through their lives.

“Come see a very intricate dollhouse,” said Trotter with a laugh.

Anyone is welcome to come see the exhibits during regular gallery hours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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