BY NINA BENICH, staff writer
An art exhibit entitled “Non-Selfie Self Portraits” is currently on display on the second floor of Gallagher Student Center. The displayed works have been created by students in one of Xavier’s First Year Seminar courses, “The Art of Expression,” and capture the challenges of college life in 2020.
Professor Madeleine Mitchell created the course after teaching Intensive English for 25 years at Xavier. The course encourages students to take on creative outlets and use their artistic ability in different aspects of their life and prospective careers.
“My idea was to put together a course that would allow people to start thinking of themselves as creative people and as artists,” Mitchell explained. “Your whole life can be an art project. You create your life and make it what you want it to be.”
“People are facing a lot of challenges: mental health challenges, financial challenges or things that might be hidden. The idea of the art assignment was to look at our selfies and social media and know that we’re all just putting up this staged image,” Mitchell stated.
In order to reach a wide audience of students, the works are displayed in Gallagher. The exhibition statement, a sign displayed alongside the works, states that they “display a rich spectrum of experience and emotion”.
Several students in the course explained their creative processes, such as Jenna Wood, whose piece is titled, “Psychedelic Dreams.” Wood’s piece shows the effect that the artistic process can have on an individual.
“I think that my piece will have a positive outlook on the audience and hopefully will inspire others to explore their creativity,” said wood. “I hope that people will see my piece as a representation of the power of creativity.”
First-year Elizabeth Carter, whose piece is titled “Melting Away,” took a more personal approach. Carter’s goal was to create a piece mainly for her own enjoyment and as an opportunity to grow in her own creative process.
“I wanted to make it aesthetically pleasing to me, and I didn’t want to spend too long making it a huge, crazy message. I just wanted to make it for myself.”
Another student, First-year Tyler Doan, focused on his experience with familiarity in his first few months as a college freshman. His piece is titled, “The Other Side.”
“In my picture, I wanted to show my attempts at grasping onto the things I am familiar with. As an out of state freshman, I am sure many others can relate to this as we take our first major steps onto the mysterious road known as life.”
First-year Jada Ratliff also expressed her message behind her piece: “In my self-portrait, I show how the world’s definition of beautiful isn’t a mirror of yourself, so you tear yourself apart.”
Professor Mitchell said that she hopes the exhibit can provide a sense of reassurance to Xavier students in the midst of both COVID-19 and a social media dominated world.
“I hope it inspires other people to think about themselves, feel open to express themselves, and to feel connected to the Xavier community,” she added. “It’s harder [now] to build that sense of community, especially for the first-year students who have never had a college experience.”
The Art of Expression will be available during spring semester to take as a First Year Seminar course.