7 Point Park University seniors showcase a year’s worth of multimedia work in new exhibition exploring socio-political beliefs and appearances
By: Nick Eustis
With the end of the spring semester fast approaching, college students across Pittsburgh are preparing for their finals. While most study for exams or write papers, seven Point Park University seniors have been faced with a unique challenge: creating a public art exhibition.
Over two semesters, these visual arts students have been creating work for a public exhibition as part of their senior thesis. All seven students are in the same class and had to work together to organize the event.
“Everyone in the group has to do something, so we have people working on the PR package, some are working on a catalog, and I’m part of the distribution group,” said Alyssa Maurer, one of the artists featured in the exhibition.
The assignment has proved a daunting challenge, according to Julie Kooser, whose work also will be featured.
“This exhibition has been the most difficult task I have had to face, so far, in my career,” Kooser said.
The students all come from photography backgrounds but come with different perspectives on the art form.
Each student was tasked with producing art that would “intervene” between the audience and their accepted beliefs, hence the exhibition‘s title, “Intervention.”
“We’re all doing different subject matter, but it all ties together with the word, ‘Intervention,’” said Chloe Jakiela, a photojournalism major who will be featured in the exhibition.
Jakiela’s work examines the concept of “otherness” in the midst of the current political situation.
To explore this, Jakiela interviewed and photographed 30 people of different backgrounds in one of their personal “safe spaces.”
“It’s been … in people’s homes, sports practices for one of them, places of worship, outside in a park or cemetery,” Jakiela said.
Kooser, also a photojournalism major, focused her portion of the exhibition on how society views gender.
“I am studying how folks discover and grow into their gender identities,” Kooser said. “It is a common misconception that gender and sex are one and the same and I wanted to create work that challenged that idea.”
In order to visualize how people grow into their gender identity, Kooser collected photographs of subjects from their childhood and juxtaposed them against recent images.
“All of the work is in grayscale to allow the audience to view the bare subjects without the influence of color, which is a common gender identifier,” Kooser said.
Maurer, on the other hand, is taking a different approach to the assignment.
“What I’m examining is the way in which narcissism has sort of shrouded the eyes of the general public through the consumption of media,” she said.
Maurer explored this idea by collaging images that carry traits of narcissism over her own face, creating a series of self-portraits.
“I don’t identify with the actual images I’ve created,” she said. “They’re like my false self … not a true representation of myself.”
Some of the artists explore media outside of photography as well. The exhibition will include video pieces, sculptures, and larger installations, in addition to photography.
While the work has undoubtedly been difficult, knowing that it will end in graduation makes it all worth it.
“Our group displayed amazing drive from the get-go,” Maurer said. “This process has enlightened each of us and heightened our sense of what a thesis project can become.”
“Intervention” will be on view at Artist Image Resource from April 19 to 30. The exhibition will feature the work of Sharimar Y. Cruz, Selena Hurst, Chloe Jakiela, Julie Kooser, Alyssa Maurer, Morgan Richards and Elizabeth Schmude. The exhibition will open with a public reception from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, April 19.
This article was last updated on Tuesday, April 17 at 2:11 p.m.