Last Saturday, March 24, the Hershberger Art Gallery opened its doors for the 2018 Goshen College Senior Art Exhibition. The show features GC’s four senior art majors: Caitlyn O’Neal of Russiaville, Indiana, Jill Steinmetz of Bluffton, Ohio, John Schrock-Shenk of Goshen, Indiana, and Maddy Keener of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As the culminating requirement for a major in the visual art department, each student-curated a selection of their work to be displayed. The show runs through April 28.
O’Neal uses her experiences as a twin as inspiration for her senior show. Her pieces are also inspired by the poem “Twins” by Larry Howland that O’Neal and her sister had in their childhood bedroom. O’Neal sought to demonstrate the journey her and her sister have had together and to highlight their similarities and differences. O’Neal’s artist statement reads:
Twins share almost everything. My twin and I share clothes, a Jeep, friends, family, a birthday, and we share the same passion for playing basketball. We have been roommates, teammates, and classmates for over 20 years. We have never truly separated from one another but this year, our senior year of college, the time to separate and become who we want to be individually has arrived. Although this may not seem monumental, it is a huge change for us. We have been together since we were born.
I hope my work inspires others to see twins from a new perspective. Although we look similar on the outside, we are very different on the inside. We have different personalities and interests.
For her show, O’Neal includes a mixture of paintings and ceramic pieces. The artist dedicated nearly three straight months in preparation for the show, which averaged out to approximately two paintings every week and a half.
“I want people to be inspired to make their own interpretations of my work,” said O’Neal. “I hope they will see that my sister means a lot to me. I also hope that they will see how much passion I had while making these pieces and will perhaps find some sort of connection to their personal lives.”
Following graduation, O’Neal plans to enter the Transition to Teaching program at Goshen College with a focus in art. She also will play her final season of collegiate basketball, after sitting out this year due to a torn ACL.
Steinmetz, a graphic design major and Spanish minor, combines her passion for art with her desire to help improve the world in her exhibition. Her pieces display a variety of digital designs that all convey common themes, including the importance of showing kindness to all, on a political and personal level, to make a change. Steinmetz writes:
My senior show was built on the principle that design shapes our world, and therefore is central to the process of improving it. My exhibit is focused on defining the vision of a better world that we strive for and projecting the social justice ideas that will facilitate change today. I am inspired by the many people, events and ideas which I used in developing the posters.
My hope is that my work can evoke similar ponderings and a new appreciation of design from each person who views it. Designers are influencers and change agents; what they create impacts what we care about. Design has the ability to inform us about social issues and challenge our understandings. I hope my show provides a space for this reflection and I hope the experience leads to further actions.
Steinmetz hoped to include a number of different voices in her pieces, so she asked people what they thought made the world a better place. Some of these answers are included in her largest work. Her exhibit also featured an interactive aspect for children, consisting of a book
where they could write what they believe makes a better world. Steinmetz wanted to include children’s voices because they are the future, and are important in actively trying to make the world better.
Steinmetz will be serving with Mennonite Central Committee through their Serving and Leading Together (SALT) program in Honduras next year. Her placement there will be as a Digital Media Specialist, informing others through photography and design.
Schrock-Shenk features a mixture of sculpture and graphic design for his exhibition. He explores how the human condition can be expressed through art. For Schrock-Shenk, the most interesting aspect of visual art is the process of self-expression and learning what inspires a given piece, as this gives a glimpse into the world of a given artist. His artist statement reads:
“Each sculpture is inspired by my trips to the local industrial scrap yard, where I find metal. In the process, I make an effort to turn the leftovers of society into art. I do this by limiting how much I alter the appearance of the metal, as a way to retain its natural beauty.
My graphic design shares similar themes with my sculptures. Both use minimal color. I enjoy the natural polish of metal and I like the modern look of black and white design.
Both use circles and diagonal lines. The circle motif is symbolic for balance and the cycle of life. I find the versatility of circles works well with the dynamic nature of diagonal lines. This helps create and reinforce movement in the pieces.”
Schrock-Shenk’s work explores subjects of political and personal relevance. He believes that by collecting stories of those around us, reasons for actions and feelings can be better understood. Schrock-Shenk plans to continue using his vision to help other globally.
Keener’s exhibition primarily portrays portraits of women in her life, and she seeks to challenge assumptions of femininity through her paintings. The Arts Administration and English double-major skillfully combine traditional feminine colors and floral patterns with portraits that evoke strength. She writes:
My art subverts stereotypes without discounting femininity. I paint the women in my portraits accurately and avoid mimicking harmful projections of what women should look like according to cultural beauty standards, but they convey a kind of solidity that is central to my message. In my five-piece portrait series, I chose to realistically depict the figure’s faces for emotional impact while abstracting their torsos using layers of paint and stylized flowers. I also flattened the hair so it becomes a solid dark shape because long hair is tied to femininity and by removing the details, it is still present, but the focus is on the facial expression and torso abstraction.
Alongside her portrait series, Keener also displays an abstract piece and a self-portrait that convey similar themes. Through her work, Keener explores traditional standards for femininity to acknowledge their place in shaping womanhood while also critiquing them. Keener said she wants her work to “validate the multidimensionality of women, especially since many historical paintings portray them as idealized objects, not as the powerful subjects I know women to be.”
In the coming years, Keener hopes to complete a Master’s Degree in Art History and eventually work for an arts publication or as a curator.