Xavier art gallery: Student work on display in Cohen

By Briana Dunn, Staff Writer

The Xavier Art Gallery hummed with conversation as technology-themed senior thesis exhibitions titled Nascent, Consumed and Future Concepts of Prosthesis opened last Friday.

Senior thesis exhibitions are the culmination of a Xavier art majors’ studies, in which they are challenged to present a fully independent project. These ideas are generated by the artists themselves, and they explore their topics entirely outside of class.

Seth Birch, an art major with a concentration in sculpture and a minor in computer science, explored themes of being engrossed in technology in his installation, Consumed. 

He portrayed this using concrete sculptures of two figures bound by cords and other electronic equipment to convey the idea of being trapped in the addictive nature of social media and technology.

“The concrete is important because when you watch shows or media, you’re set where you’re at, and it’s kind of hard to get out of that,” Birch said. “The cords (are important) because they were the evolution of technology; it went from corded to now cordless. We have all this convenience, so we don’t really know what’s attached to us.”

Birch remarked that the inspiration for his show came from watching a lot of YouTube in high school.

“I felt consumed by the media that I was watching,” Birch said.

Birch’s show was also interactive, aiming for visitors to use their phones while further expressing the idea of using them excessively. 

The room had QR codes for viewers to scan to learn more about the show and the pieces on his website.

Newswire photo by Briana Dunn

Nihal Ahmed, an art major with a concentration in graphic design and illustration with a minor in music, focused on the ideas of nostalgia and realizing your existence in the world in his show Nascent. His year long process began with months of research before falling out of love with his concept until a journey to Pakistan.

“Over there, I had this great opportunity where I didn’t have anything to work on. So I leaned into other things that are not just art and design,” Ahmed said.

While in Pakistan, Ahmed sampled old records, songs and different Pakistani music to compose the entire album that plays in his gallery space. The music accompanies a series of collage-oriented paintings of Mount K2, composed of a digital print mounted to a wood panel and overlaid with acrylic and oil paint and 100 different cassette tapes mounted to a wood panel.

“I kind of brought this idea of sampling to the paintings,” Ahmed said. “Kind of similar to how the music is kind of a collage of sounds.”

Ahmed explained that his exhibit’s title was reflective of the journey expressed in his art.

“(Old technology, mixtapes, CRT televisions) make really good containers for these ideas because it’s like they’re lost to time already,” Ahmed remarked.

The final exhibitor, Keith Flueck, whose concentration is in graphic design and illustration, centers on prosthetic design in his display Future Concepts of Prosthetics. He attributes his inspiration for his thesis to his childhood.

“I’ve always been a big fan of robotics and engineering. And from my family standpoint, a lot of things that weren’t tackled in the science aspect of life or as I call it the qualities of life,” Flueck said. 

“I make prosthetics to help fill the gaps of life. Because I know a lot of people who don’t have their appendages anymore, and they would like to have a piece of themselves.”

Flueck’s extensive research gave him an understanding of the arm’s anatomy and how to make mechanical corresponding parts to the body. He mentioned his plans to continue his work on prosthetic design and is currently seeking out engineers and computer scientists to discuss his ideas.

“But after a break, I’m going to get back on the saddle and work on legs next because it was just primarily arms,” Flueck said.

Nascent, Consumed and Future Concepts of Prosthetics will be shown until Feb. 3.