Concentrate and ask again

Senior Studio Art Majors Thesis Exhibition

April 24, 2015 - May 16, 2015


In the yearlong Senior Seminar for Studio Art Majors at Dickinson College, the faculty works collaboratively to direct each student’s creation of an expansive body of artwork. Modeled closely after a graduate mode of instruction, seminar meetings focus on weekly critique of current projects, discussions of readings, lectures on contemporary art, review and editing of the artists’ statements, field trips, and practicum instruction. In addition to regularly scheduled individual meetings with individual studio art faculty, students enrolled in the seminar meet with the entire faculty three or four times a semester for a group critique. These more communal exchanges often include art history faculty as well as underclass studio art majors. Over the course of the senior year the students participate in two important exhibition experiences. The first is a “preview” presentation mounted at the end of the fall semester. For this show each student exhibits a small number of finished works and works-in-progress.

The exhibition provides an opportunity for the students to “test the waters” with a general audience, to work through experimental directions, and to understand all that is involved in mounting a show of their artwork. The experience is traditionally very “hands on,” as the students learn to design, hang, light, and promote their show. This initial exhibition prepares the students for their final, and more expansive installation in Dickinson College’s Trout Gallery during the last weeks of the spring semester.

The eight graduating studio art majors make artwork that varies as widely in content as it does in creative media. Despite the individuality and diversity of the group, more than a few common threads unite the students’ ambitious approaches to their art. 

Jenna Hess, Anna Ersenkal, and Carley Zarkeka, for example, are engaged with an investigation of memory as an integral part of their artwork. Molly Thorne and Meghan Abercrombie share an interest in an almost meditative representation of reality. Their works suggest a poetic metaphor, yet they concretely reference the physical word. Cassie Lier,

Shelby Kalamar, and Lauren Holtz somewhat similarly, yet through disparate approaches, draw upon an uncanny tension between personal and popular references in their work. Together, these student artists all display an incisive awareness of materiality, a dedication to concepts that are both intensely personal and sympathetically universal, and a keen understanding of professional art practices.

The title of this exhibition directly refers to the Magic 8-Ball, a popular fortune-telling toy. “Concentrate and Ask Again” is one of the predictive answers the object displays when shaken, presumably in answer to a question. Although intended to be humorously vague, the Magic 8-Ball reference evokes the critical processes of an artist. An active and successful studio practice requires a constantly evaluative process of posing and reposing questions about the work being created. Whether framed by critiques with mentors, conversations with peers, or simply personal reflection, the constant act of “concentrating and asking again” in the studio is essential to art making. Have these eight students produced a sincere and reflective body of artwork? All Signs Point to Yes!

Anthony Cervino, Associate Professor of Art