Duncan Art Exhibition offers unique opportunity for students

Author: Cailtin Brannigan

The Duncan Student Center Undergraduate and Graduate Student Exhibition is a breathtaking showcase of student talent that, through its variety of work, brings different sectors of the campus community together. Because there is no set theme, every work focuses on its own unique subject, offering a glimpse into the individual artistic vision of each student. Practically, it provides students in design and studio art courses the real-world experience of submitting art to an exhibition. The displays, which include a wide range of physical and digitally created work, are located on the first and second floor of Duncan.

For a documentary project in her Photography I class, studio art major Julia Ysabel Santiaguel created the impactful photography collage “We are ALSO ND.” Quotes from employees — as well as other relevant information about them — accompany each of the 17 photos of campus dining employees at work, allowing viewers to connect with each person photographed.

Santiaguel, whose parents work in campus dining, intended for this piece to foster a deeper appreciation for campus dining employees among students. When her classmates encouraged her to submit her work to the exhibition, she saw an opportunity for her message to reach a wider audience. 

“I think they’re really underappreciated here ... Especially because of COVID here, my parents, (and) every one of these workers had to put their lives at risk. They couldn’t work from home because they needed to help provide food to our students...It makes you think because there are these students who go to the dining hall and they can kind of be a little disrespectful towards them, and the fact that these workers have been working here for years and years and are still there is just, you want to appreciate them a lot more,” Santiaguel said.

Santiaguel’s visual work is strong and stunningly effective in its mission of bringing together all members of the campus community. Through the piece, the viewer gets to know 30 separate campus dining workers, many of whom have worked here for over 10 years. The piece builds a strong sense of appreciation and gratitude for the dedication and hard work campus dining workers put in for students each and every day.

Also featured in the exhibition is “Breakfast Mix” by visual communication design and marketing double major Megan Murray. This piece — which Murray created by reconstructing a cereal box — integrating pieces of construction paper and digitally printed images, combines skills from both of her majors.

Murray created the piece for a project in her 3D Foundations class that required students to select a company and create a new product for it. Murray chose General Mills and designed a cereal box that could be enjoyed by both children and their parents, despite large gaps in what these age groups typically seek in a cereal.

"My intention was to create a product tailored to two very different demographics, and ultimately generations, of customers,” Murray said. 

The two-piece box is split down the middle in a zig-zag pattern. Each piece is fully enclosed. The right piece, which is yellow, would contain a sugary, fruity cereal for children. The left piece, which is purple, would contain a multigrain cereal for adults. The cereal box features a recipe intended for adults and images of Scooby Doo characters aimed at children.

This piece serves a pragmatic marketing purpose but also Design major Catie Procyk created the oil painting “Gulfoss” for her Painting I class. Though she has painted almost all her life using other mediums, this was her first oil painting and one of very few landscapes she has depicted. The project presented a unique opportunity for her to experiment with her talents to produce something beautiful.

“Gulfoss” portrays the beauty of an Icelandic waterfall which Procyk visited in person. To convey the awe-inspiring landscape, Procyk used pointillism, a method used by famous artists like Van Gogh that employs dashes of color.

“I wanted to capture how overwhelmingly beautiful it was and that sense of the Earth is so beautiful,” Procyk said. The vibrant colors and alluring landscape evoke a strong emotional response from viewers, imitating the effect of viewing the waterfall in person.

Every piece in the current exhibition reflects the unique goals and skills of talented student artists. The exhibition will remain in place until the end of this semester. Next semester, new student art will take the place of the current art.