For seniors Kelsey Elliott and Sarah Rasmussen, art is much more than something to be enjoyed — it is something to be experienced.
Rather than sharing a message with words, the two find meaning can best be conveyed through art.
As a part of the SPU Art Department’s senior shows, these two have worked to create a display of their artistic abilities in preparation for graduation. In this showing, the students have prepared several pieces, each depicting a personal area of their lives.
Kelsey Elliott’s work entitled “Manifest: A Psychological Landscape” is a visual representation of human disconnect, a struggle Elliott aimed to work through in her project.
“Manifest displays the way I am able to fulfill that longing for a deeper connection through photography, while also showcasing past experiences of remoteness,” Elliott said. “The inspiration truly came from my desire to really have people reflect on human connection and the value in it.”
To depict these feelings, she utilized different barriers with in her photos, drawing on body language and inanimate objects to help the audience understand the struggle.
“I wanted to create literal and figurative barriers so that the subject and the viewer could not connect at first look, which probes the viewer to question why,” she said.
Elliott used specific measurements with archival prints because she believes that scale plays a big role for the viewer to interact with an image. She used 16-by-20-inch prints as well as three-by-two-inch archival prints.
Rasmussen’s piece conveys an identity conflict.
In Rasmussen’s exhibit “The Place Between,” the art allows viewers to step into a different world and experience a feeling of suppression and rediscovery.
At the age of 1, Rasmussen was adopted from Fuzhou, China, and was raised in Washington after the age of 3.
“Being adopted from China has never been easy,” Rasmussen said. “The constant uneasiness of feeling out of place and not knowing where you belong is a feeling that is not easily shaken or forgotten.”
Rasmussen refers to a paradoxical identity as the inspiration for “The Place Between.”
“Being a person of color raised by Caucasian parents has been a journey,” Rasmussen said. “Never fully fitting in with my friends of color and never fully fitting in with my friends who were not.”
To convey these feelings, Rasmussen built a 16-foot long-by-eight-foot high wall, painted it black and placed it near one of the Art Center walls to hang a total of 10 photos, five across from each other on each side.
This set-up created a dimly lit tunnel, leaving the viewer to constantly look back and forth from one image to another.
“The dual-wall tunnel is to effectively allow you, the viewer, to experience a feeling of suppression,” Rasmussen said. “You are physically encased by these faces and in this tunnel; you must be seen and judged by all that lines the walls.”
Rasmussen added, “You must pass by all of their gazes until you emerge at the end, but at the end, you remain unscathed.”
Both artists hope to bring the viewer to the understanding of a new, and perhaps unfamiliar, perspective through their work.
Rasmussen said, “This work wasn’t meant to be explained or understood, it was meant to be felt and experienced.”
The exhibitions will run in the SPAC Gallery through April 26.