On Friday evening, Xavier art majors held a spring senior thesis art exhibit entitled, “The Art of Connectedness,” that showcased their brilliantly-hued and profoundly inspirational artwork. Four students were featured in the show – Tori Woodruff, Anne Locker, Hannah Bailey and Hannah Deters – and each collection illuminated a part of the human consciousness and what it experiences.
Locker’s “The Season” was an engaging example of the ways in which art can illustrate the interconnectedness of the world and the Catholic Church and how creativity can invigorate the dynamic relationship between the Church and the rapidly shifting world. I found her work fascinating and intricately personal; the power of creativity to transform the contemporary atmosphere of the Church articulates the need for art to enrich our modern conversations and catalyze the Church’s adaptation to our modern world.
Deters’ work “Common Ground” embodied themes of interpersonal relations within the context of small town traditions. She used marketing materials to exemplify a kind of harmony and togetherness and create a wellspring of belongingness that emanated from her art. I felt warmth at the limitless possibility palpable in her work, one that spoke to me of resilience and empathy. Amid the tumultuous social and political climate we inhabit, it was delightful and refreshing to see a collection that exuded both simplicity and complexity, and that reconciled the perpetual motion of our lives and the solace we can find in the kindness of others. Her art spoke of the arresting beauty found in seemingly-unassuming conversations, which often reveal rich and kaleidoscopic human connections.
Bailey’s “The Potentials” brought the complexity of the personality to life. She framed the psychological concept of the “Forer Effect,” which describes the phenomena in which people equate vague personality descriptions with themselves, through the lens of vibrant crimson, blue and yellow stained-glass panels. Her work depicted the plurality of the consciousness as opposed to the uniformity of the descriptions onto which her audience’s minds clung. It was thrilling for me to witness the transfiguration of my own mind through her artwork; the precepts I had formerly held about myself and about the descriptions I thought had characterized me dissipated because of my encounter with her thoroughly engaging exhibit.
Woodruff’s “Traumatic Tangibility” was my favorite exhibit. It discussed the fragility and beauty of human emotions and experiences, particularly those who have suffered traumatic experiences. Her intricate and gossamer portraits of nude women, many of whom were draped in smoky, mesmerizing chiaroscuro illuminated with a rose mist or bore golden, luminous haloes, were as heart-achingly beautiful as they were fraught with anguish and suffering. The eyes of the women gleamed with an almost audible plea for help or a sob of surrender, yet their iridescent silence, only slightly weighted by their golden crowns, was as ethereal as the curls of their hair. The contrast between dark hues surrounding the women and the pallidity of their skin, with their distraught countenances illuminated a profound shame associated with their trauma.
Yet the intimacy of their experience did not serve as a force of enclosure or isolation, but one of connectedness, weaving painful memories with healing voices and bringing hope and light to what had been lost in shadow. Woodruff remarked that the motifs of undulating lines and colors present in her artwork served as “an interconnection of people with their trauma, so they’re meant to be weaved together as connecting people, and I brought them into these portraits as a further way to connect individuals with one another.”
Art’s capacity to move hearts and minds into a state of intimacy and awareness engages one’s consciousness not only with beauty but also with the plurality of voices present in the world. I am so grateful to have witnessed the artwork produced by Xavier’s senior art majors, as they all rendered the complexity of the human experience with great prowess, insight and beauty.
By: Sofia OrdoÑez | Arts & Entertainment Editor