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'In the Amber' showcases student art at MSU

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The “In the Amber” Fine Art Thesis Exhibition was held April 28 through May 2, and featured pieces by 16 fine arts majors, each student with a different story to tell.

Three different exhibits, one in McComas Hall, one in the Cullis-Wade Depot Art Gallery and one in the Visual Arts Center on University Drive, combined to form the exhibition. As part of their final thesis projects, each senior earning a bachelor’s in fine arts created a collection of pieces for the exhibition and participated in the process of organizing the exhibits.

The title of the exhibition, “In the Amber,” was based on a quote from “Slaughter-House Five” by Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut described amber as holding life still in a single location and time, and draws a parallel between bugs and humans being trapped in amber.

While the thesis projects from these students represents everything they have learned over the course of their undergraduate studies at Mississippi State University, the works of art featured in the exhibits are held in a single location and time. This exhibition provided a physical representation of what the students learned over the course of earning their bachelor degrees.

Fine arts student Jordan Knight said the project was a combination of a semester of research and a semester of creating the pieces. Knight said she designed her thesis project to encourage students to experiment with their talents and knowledge of art.

“Prior to this year, I had no idea what I wanted to do or how to approach this year,” Knight said.

Though the exhibition allowed the students to draw on the knowledge they acquired over the past four years, the students did not begin work on these pieces until their final year in the fine art program. 

Knight said she considers herself a drawer, and wanted to find a way to enhance what can sometimes be seen as a boring and flat genre of art. In order to elevate her drawing, Knight decided to apply the collage method. She drew each element individually, and then collaged them together: creating beautiful pieces of mixed media. Since the thesis project allowed time for the students to research and plan their pieces, Knight experimented with her drawing, resulting in her ingenious works displayed in the exhibit.

The thesis exhibition was also a display of unique creativity for Daniel Clark. Clark said he wanted to explore a new way of working and to try more abstract, non-representative work, as opposed to the more figural art taught in school.

This project allowed Clark to explore different materials, such as plywood and spackle, to see how many different medias he could use in one piece. As Clark’s work evolved, so did his subject matter, which dealt with humanity’s tendency to be drawn toward horrible things. The multiple surfaces of his works tempted viewers to experience an awkward tension Clark personally resonates with.

Along with allowing each student to tell a story through their works of art, the show prepared them for life after college. The organization of the fine art exhibition gave the students experience in making a body of work, and taught them about framing, staging and choosing gallery spaces.

The fine art exhibition “In the Amber” was an opportunity for senior fine arts students to present everything they had learned over the years, while also teaching them about the creation of an exhibition. This art exhibition brought the MSU art community together in one singular, still moment which encapsulated what Vonnegut described. 

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