On Thursday, January 11, 2018, Concordia Saint Paul’s Art Program held an exhibit featuring Jennifer Her’s graduating art portfolio and simultaneously held the 15th Annual High School Honors Exhibition. Jennifer Her named her portfolio “Rest” because she is an over thinker and her time to be at rest is when she is making art. She wanted to express to the audience that her art is a representation of her thought processes and a way to find identity and free her mind. For example, in her piece “Rooted,” black, white, and gray yarn was hung from the ceiling as a large mass while having yarn tendrils spilling onto the floor. This piece describes her thinking as being connected and growing so that the roots, while holding her thoughts together, create an opportunity for new thought to stem out, to explore and reach out to create new ideas. The yarn does have an end, symbolizing there is an end and eventual rest to her thoughts. Her whole exhibit was black and white, but the artist did not record her reasoning.
The second exhibit, the 15th Annual High School Honors Exhibit, held a wide variety of art being displayed. The exhibit contained paintings, drawings, photographs, ceramics, sculptures and some mixed media creations. Many of the pieces featured and showed great detail which highlight the talent these artists have been given and have fostered. However, two pieces stood out to me: the large sculpture and the Hot Springs painting. Compared to many sculptures displayed in previous art exhibits, A Dreamer’s Worst NIghtmare by Audrey Daul, was assembled together in a rough style and was completed so it looked as if it were done almost carelessly. This piece was intriguing and very thought provoking. This artistic creation included laminated job, housing, healthcare, and immigration tests. There were two outfits in their piece: an orange jumpsuit that said “illegal alien,” and a soldier’s camouflage pants. Next to the camouflage pants was a board that read, “PROTECT YOUR DREAMS.” On top of the board was a Spanish translation dictionary that had the word “espera”, meaning hope or a wish, circled. Finally, three pairs of shoes: a man’s sandals, a woman’s work shoes, and a toddler’s tennis shoes hung from the painted, wooden structure. The structure was built in an ascending fashion to help the audience understand the phases of an immigrant’s life.
Hot Springs was created by Laura Martin. The small piece of art was not mentioned during the judging process, but I believe it deserves some outside credit. The small painting was of a geyser with trees in the background and steam rising from the water. It was interesting to see how well the transparency of the steam was integrated on the painting and how crisp and clear the art was, considering it was a painting.
The two themes that encompass this high school art exhibit and the graduating portfolio are dreams and the colors of black and white. However, as the Honors class learned in the ways of knowing, information is not black and white, but a variety of grayish colors. Dreams can create reality, but there is also a sense of unknowing, or a gray area, in dreams. What people want does not always align with what is going to happen. That uncertainty can be scary and lived out in many situations. Yet, there are people who can find rest in the unknown and begin to dive into uncertainty through learning. That is what students in the Honors program are doing this semester by volunteering at different sites in the community to bring positive change to the environment. Before beginning at the volunteer sites, students did not know what to expect, who they would meet, or what situations they would be put into. Honors students discovered the service sites were nothing to be fearful of and bring good to many people. These sites bring people hope and ease the transition of the unknown whether the unknown is the loss of a job, homelessness or serving a prison sentence. One of the sculptures at the exhibit portrayed possible unknowns people may encounter and potential unrest people deal with in life. This sculpture shows many of the challenges people in the community are facing. Honors students are focused on supporting people with some of the same uncertainties and life challenges. This includes supporting those in need by finding clothing, represented in the shoes. Helping others in this way removes the ascending challenges they may face, as shown in the art structure.
Art exhibits are hard to evaluate. Art is vague and can have many meanings behind any given piece. However, the exhibit as a whole tied together the ways of knowing, or unknowing, and my volunteer site. Before I went into Prison Ministry, I was told by friends and family that I was extremely brave and should be certain to be aware of my surroundings, people, and interactions with ex-convicts so I could be safe. After going to the site, I realized it was not as bad as everyone thought it would be. It was interesting and even enjoyable while meeting with ex-convicts. I lived in an unknown gray area thinking all convicts are mean criminals and not necessarily normal people. I was not fearful and found rest in the unknown by keeping an open mind and serving with an open heart. I am enjoying my service with ex-convicts, am learning to understand their perspective and how they prepare to make the big and often difficult transition into the next stage of their lives.