This year’s Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates showcased the work which got them into the BFA program in Western’s B Gallery at a closing reception on Thursday evening, Oct. 13. Beaudry Allen, Jessica Bloom, Maggie Carr, Renée Cheesman, Kaitlin Howland, Vian Nguyen, Elly Ortland, Caroline Paulson, Kam Peck and Dylan Vogel make up this year’s BFA cohort.
The BFA is an advanced undergraduate degree that expands on the Bachelor of Arts in Art. Under faculty advisement, these 10 students will work independently, undergo committee evaluations and curate gallery exhibitions over the course of the next year. They will continue coursework in their specific concentrations, fundraise for and produce the BFA catalog, and produce a body of work that will be featured in the Western Gallery this spring.
Senior Kaitlin Howland (North Bend)
“My piece is titled ‘Insides’ and my medium is bronze. In my BFA year I want to continue in my bronze work that focuses on the identity within the body; the body being seen not as the sum of the person, but as simply the vessel.”
Senior Beaudry Allen (Spokane)
“Ever since high school, I knew I wanted to go to art school I just didn’t know how I was going to get there. This is technically my seventh year of school and it’s very satisfying to have finally gotten to [this] point. This year I’m going to be working on creating a company that is like a fashion brand/media brand. I’ll be making clothing, photos, videos and advertisements. I hope to gain skills to market myself as a creative director so I’m not just a photographer going out into the world looking for photography work, but so I can be considered a creative director that has valuable ideas that can be hired by any number of people.”
Senior Maggie Carr (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
“The hardest part [of creating art] is feeling vulnerable enough to make art that feels important to you. My work is not for anyone else, it’s for me, and the idea that art has to be for someone else instead of for the artist is false. The pieces I have here are part of a series called Snapchat Portraits and this part of the series is all woodcut prints, which is a type of relief printing. The reference material is all Snapchat screenshots that reference how this era of social media proliferation has allowed people to curate their self image in a certain way and being able to share certain parts of yourself. Snapchat allows you to do that much more freely … you get to show a certain part of yourself that you probably wouldn’t otherwise. It also shows how we build groups in the modern day, but also this group building, this tribe making, by sharing different moments of your life with other people mimics a historical tradition, which is why I chose such a traditional medium.”
Senior Vian Nguyen (Auburn)
“The human body inspires me, how it has been represented, how gender and sexuality has been represented over time and I want to show how it is being represented now. I started [these pieces] last year and it was an experiment from an experiment. I started using light against objects and I wanted to enhance depth and shadow and contrast so I decided to use paper, fold it and shine a bright light on it. With that I came up with the idea of printing something on the paper and I thought of [using] photography, models and figures. When I stopped thinking about needing and idea, this just struck me.”
Senior Elly Otrland (Bellevue)
“The work in this show is the beginning of my work moving toward religious subject matter and are based off of alter pieces that I made in a model. I knew this was what I wanted to do since I was like 5 years old, but I felt like I didn’t belong in this program because I didn’t feel like I was a contemporary artist. The BFA is really geared toward conceptual thinking but that doesn’t mean you can’t think conceptually about any kind of art. I have a strong interest in illustration so a lot of my work is really stylized, has human figures, narrative and has a lot of fantasy subject matter. I like seeing just how far I can push my process and my techniques to make something beautiful and captivating.”
Senior Caroline Paulson (Bloomington, Minnesota)
“I am really inspired by the availability of art to create a life-long learning experience. I am learning about anatomy with what I am doing, the ecological impact of my art, the cultural importance of certain materials. I get to learn so much by creating. My concentration in the BFA is mixed-media installation work. Instead of taking a two-dimensional thing and putting it up on a wall, I am defining a space. I’m thinking about lighting; do I want there to be sound? Do I want there to be smell to it? It’s more immersive and a whole experience. The work I am focusing on now eco art and art that brings attention to some of the ecological problems that we are facing right now and I think that [an art] installation is the best way to do that. I am trying to use a lot of post-consumer materials – I’m dumpster diving a lot and asking people for their garbage.”
Senior Kam Peck (Renton)
“A lot of my work revolves around a duality between dark and light. I focus a lot of my work on questioning things like the human body and tackle larger social values. I deal greatly with comic books and violence and I like to use that to think about how we can better use comic books to tackle things like sexual abuse, violence and drug addiction. I am also focusing on trying to move this idea of the classical female nude into a more modern era and try to remove the social stigmas around the classical female nude and how that power has been subtly abused through history. I am trying to modernize that and give power back to the feminine form.”
Senior Dylan Vogel (Sandpoint, Idaho)
“I am really interested in the way that humanity engages land, encroaches on it and the remnants that we leave. All of the things that humanity touches tell us a lot about who we are. The prints I have here were taken in Eastern Washington along I-90. I was really drawn to these subjects. There was something sublime about how they stood out in the middle of nothing. It’s really interesting to have them dominate your perspective but everything else fades away. I hope that when people look at my work they have the sensation of looking at something for the first time and then having their attention drawn to it. I like to mimic the experience of having your eye drawn to something and then needing to approach it.”
BFA candidates Renee Cheesman and Jessica Bloom were not available for comment.
“This BFAs this year are really a motivated, and serious group of artists,” Assistant Professor Chris Vargas said. “The work in the BFA showcase presented the work from their recent past–work that they applied with to the program, and based on the strength of that work I have no doubt they will create amazing, ambitious, and formally and conceptually rigorous projects this year. I feel really lucky to be able to work with them as the BFA advisor.”