This featured artist this week is Laura Harnish, a senior art major from Flanagan, Ill. Harnish’s oil paintings, as with “Agrey” pictured here, are on display along with the work of four other senior art majors in the Music Center’s Hershberger Art Gallery from now until April 15.

Although drawing was her medium of choice until this year, Harnish became interested in the color possibilities of oil and canvas for her senior exhibit. “I love the depth that can be achieved through building layers of paint,” Harnish said.

Harnish’s show draws on her time on the Tanzania Study-Service Term in spring 2008. “Creating the work for this show was a way of processing the experiences I had in Tanzania and celebrating the beautiful people I met, especially my incredibly generous host family,” Harnish said.

“Agrey” specifically draws on a painful memory from Harnish’s experience in Tanzania. The painting is based off of a self-portrait photograph taken by her young host brother, Agrey, on the day of his older brother’s funeral.

Agrey’s brother Daudi died of complications from tonsillitis while Harnish was living with the family. “This heartbreaking incident, which shouldn’t have happened,” Harnish said, “opened my eyes to the realities and injustices of life in an under-developed country.”

“‘Agrey’ is the one work I knew all along I would have to keep for myself,” Harnish said. “The story behind it couldn’t be entirely understood by others.”