Week of peace inspires student art

By Briana Dunn, Staff Writer

An art exhibit titled Seeking Peace was on display last week on the second and third floors of the Gallagher Student Center (GSC) in celebration of International Week of Peace. 

The Xavier Art Society (XAS) partnered with the Center for Faith and Justice, Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Center for Innovation and Education, GSC and three Xavier art classes to create the exhibition, which was presented on  International Peace Day.

Gallery Director Kitty Uetz and Xavier Art Professor Madeleine Mitchell described this show as a way to generate more student engagement in honoring peace on campus. Their intention was to encourage people to evaluate where and how “peace” exists.

“The prompt was ‘Where you find peace, what does it mean for you to seek peace and what or where are the places you are hopeful about peace?’” Suzanne Chouteau, professor and chair of the Xavier Art Department, explained.

“It seemed that some of the students took that notion and made it about how they find peace within themselves… and then others, such as myself, were thinking front and foremost about Ukraine and hoping for peace in Ukraine and so that kind of message came through. Others thought about global peace,” she said.

Classes such as Professor Chouteau’s printmaking class participated in the exhibit, dedicating projects to the theme of peace.

Photo cap: As part of Xavier’s celebration of International Week of Peace, students created art depicting their understandings of peace, including Ian McIlvain’s untitled piece and Julie Pece’s “Outer.”

Sophomore art major Molly Gressle, who exhibited two pieces titled “1/4” and “Seeking for Ukraine,” tried to incorporate ideas from across the world in both of her works. She incorporated themes of diversity, global unity and Ukrainian struggles for peace.

“It was special. It does represent something kind of big, especially issues that we have going on,” she said.

Sophomore psychology major Maria Emmerich took a more personal approach in constructing her work in the exhibit, “Trail of Roses,” which she created in her fiber arts class. 

“It’s very family-oriented, because that’s where I find peace, and I think that’s pretty relatable for a lot of people,” Emmerich said.

First-year art major Ian McIlvain also emphasized inner peace in his untitled piece, which he created as part of his first-year seminar “Art of Expression” class. “Mine was a torn picture of two people hugging that was taped back together with words of unity behind it. I talked about uniting back together and I feel like (the piece represents) inner peace, but also peace in general, and global peace and reuniting torn relationships,” McIlvain said.

McIlvain also commented on the vague nature of the prompt given to his class. 

“It was very interesting and thought-provoking, because it is very open-ended and everyone has different views of what peace is. There’s global peace, peace within ourselves — our daily lives — so many categories of seeking peace.” 

Several members of XAS displayed art in the exhibition as well as organizing the event, including Julie Pece, a junior social work major, whose pieces were titled “Inner” and “Outer.” Pece’s goal was to depict different sources of peace.

“We don’t all get peace from the same source. Mine is external, from the world around me, but other people’s peace is internal. They can sit with themselves and still find peace,” she said.

XAS President Nick Naymar mentioned that the timing of the show and reception were great ways to celebrate international peace in the midst of midterm stresses. He also commented on the importance of the show, saying it reminds people that “there is peace in the world and they can get through this.”