For senior art majors, March and April are the most important months of the school year. Starting on Friday, Mar. 10, the first of two senior art installations will be showcased in the Hershberger Art Gallery in the Music Center. Each installation will feature the work of five to six senior art students. The first features work by Diana Blacut, Ginyce Haywood, Courtney Miller, Anya Slabaugh and Ardys Woodward.

The senior exhibits will be the culmination of four years of hard work. As with other academic programs, senior projects provide a tangible and public expression of artistic growth throughout their time studying at Goshen.

Merrill Krabill, professor of art, says that the senior exhibits also give students an opportunity to work on a long-term project.

“It’s really nice to see the senior shows. It’s a chance to really focus on one idea, one approach. It’s a time when they really make lots of progress,” said Krabill.

Most seniors have been working on their pieces for the show all semester, but the ideas behind the pieces have been ruminating for much longer. Art major Anya Slabaugh, a senior, incorporated a metal cage she made last year into her senior exhibit and has added more cages.

“The biggest cage is one that I made a year ago and that was to visualize depression and to visualize what that feels like for me, so the others kind of sprung off of that one. In some ways it still means that, but connecting it with the cactus has kind of changed its meaning in some ways,” said Slabaugh.

Slabaugh’s work for this show is comprised of two elements that are separate but also part of a whole: metal cages covered in quilt batting and smaller metal cacti. This exhibit will be an ironically personal one for Slabaugh, who shifted her artistic focus for this project away from mental health and toward the desire to be impersonal.

“I’ve been feeling this year, a lot more than I ever have, that I don’t necessarily want to share things with people,” said Slabaugh.

Focusing on mental health, a very draining and personal subject for Slabaugh, didn’t seem to fit.

“This is an interesting show for me because in some ways I feel like it’s one of the most personal things I’ve ever done. But in other ways, I feel like I’m talking about not being personal…it’s kind of peculiar. It’s something that I’m still understanding as I’m making it and as I’m starting to show it,” Slabaugh said.

This sort of thought depth is something that Randy Horst, professor of art, enjoys nurturing and watching bloom in his students.

“It’s an ongoing process, working with them at this point where they’re developing their most personal work,” said Horst. “They’re maturing to the point where they can ride that process out, where they trust the process, and so they can go into it knowing that they don’t have all the answers yet but when they get done, they’ll have sort of figured out how to complete it.”

Part of that process involves creating and editing pieces to be a cohesive body of work. Each student has chosen a theme around which their work is centered. Blacut’s paintings center around her own family dynamics. Haywood’s graphic design work with mixed media examine her own life experience as well as the beauty in distortions. Miller’s photography captures the beauty in intimate details of nature. Woodward’s paintings focus on the female figure.

Both Horst and Krabill speak very highly of the 2017 senior art students.

“It’s a very strong group. I’m very excited for these exhibits,” said Horst. “They’re impressive; they’re interesting; they’re challenging.”

The installation for this first group of senior art students will be on display in the Hershberger Art Gallery from Mar. 10-29, and the reception will be held on Sunday, Mar. 12 from 2-4 p.m.

The second senior exhibition will feature work by Maddie Gerig, Emma Koop Liechty, Katie McKinnell, Dona Park, Richard Raposa and Elizabeth Woodward. It will be in the gallery from Mar. 31-Apr. 19 with a reception on Apr. 2 from 2-4 p.m.