Senior Thesis Art Showcase slays

By: Kevin Thomas & Aiden Dalton ~Staff Writers~

Photos courtesy of Lydia Reagan | Michaela Fettig’s “syn·es·the·sia” (left), Natalie Braun’s “Exhibit Being” (center), Anne Donahue’s “Outside More” (upper right) and Lydia Reagan’s “(Un)natural Selection” (lower right) were featured.

The Xavier University’s Senior Thesis Art Showcase opened Friday presented Lydia Reagan’s “(Un)natural Selection,” Natalie Braun’s “Exhibit Being,” Michaela Fettig’s “syn·es·the·sia” and Anne Donahue’s “Outside More” at the Cohen Center’s art gallery.

Reagan’s art focused on the preservation of rare exotic species typically poached and overhunted. The thesis of her art was to end the “(un)natural selection” of poaching and other human effects on nature.

Art and memorabilia was available for purchase, with all proceeds going to the World Wildlife Foundation and the International Anti-poaching Foundation. Reagan crafted a framed case study on multiple endangered species, many of which I had never heard of before, including the Totoaba fish and the Pangolin. Featured in these framed case studies was the name of the animal, along with many different facts on that animal.

All of this information surrounded a beautiful linocut. There were around 10 linocuts, all featuring a different animal and its facts. Each linocut was delicately crafted, with precision and attention given to every facet of each strange animal.

I was amazed at how alive each animal looked, how each one begged for its existence along with Reagan’s own pining for the continuation of the species. Along with the case studies, I also found a variety of cheaper trinkets sold to help support the foundations. It inspires hope to see such a talented artist lend her voice and craft to the needing creatures of the world.

Natalie Braun’s work, “Exhibit Being,” was an installation of four walls making a cross on top of a circle displaying the four different states of being — Body, Mind, Soul and Spirit — as she saw them while dealing with the loss of her father. Braun did an excellent job displaying the different aspects of these four states of being with incredible illustrations and plaster sculptures intertwined together.

Her section on the mind was extremely well done. It was split into two parts: the left side, which had geometric shapes, gears and numbers all in black, and the right side, which had bubbles of faces exploring different emotions, musical notes, rainbows and swirls, all in effervescent color. “Exhibit Being” did what Braun wanted it to do extremely well and is well worth checking out.

“syn·es·the·sia,” by Michaela Fettig is the artist’s way to help the public understand and experience what it’s like to have synesthesia, which is the confusion of the senses. My favorite of her three separate groups of works, representing three common forms of synesthesia, were the four illustrations she made depicting chromesthesia.

Chromesthesia occurs when hearing music leads to seeing colors. The four illustrations share names with the songs that inspired them. They are “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Holding onto You,” “She Will be Loved” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

I spent the longest amount of time viewing the art on these four because I wanted to listen to each song as I inspected the illustrations so that I could really feel the connection between the sounds and the images. It was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen. I could feel the colors dancing with the rhythms. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was my favorite of the series. It was the perfect aesthetic for the psychedelic song, exemplifying the sense of melting felt from the song.

Anne Donahue begs people to get outside more with her collection of jars with “bits of nature captured inside,” according to her explanation of the work, called “Outside More.”

“Outside More” is a collection of probably more than 100 differently sized jars filled with tokens of nature that she gathered from places all over. It’s an interactive exhibit, asking viewers to interact with the jars, pick them up, open them and smell, feel or remember the world that’s contained. Each jar was a memory to me.

They all pushed me into the recesses of my mind, to experiencing past times spent in outdoor adventures. It was a beautiful experience, and the scattered mandalas helped reflection swim to the front of my mind. It was an incredible meditation on the natural world, all contained inside of glass jars.

The Senior Thesis Art Showcase will be available for viewing until March 31 .