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Displaying the personal through art

UW's art students explore personal stories through artistic manifestation in the honors graduation exhibition

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"Wandering" by Wenjie Wang, oil on canvas, on display at the honors graduation exhibition at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery.

Scores of receipts clipped together and arranged by month covered a wall, at the corner of which stood four cardboard boxes with Korean postal service marks stamped on their sides. On the adjacent wall hung ink-drawn portraits of individuals. The eyes of the faces were erased.

These pieces by Jin Park and Amanda Pickler offered a first glimpse of the student artwork in the UW School of Art + Art History + Design’s final graduation exhibition hosted by the Jacob Lawrence Gallery. The exhibition featured eleven artists receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in art with honors, in the areas of photomedia, interdisciplinary visual arts, and painting + drawing.

The gallery has harbored the artwork of several graduating art students in the series of four exhibitions it has held throughout April and May. Each exhibition had its own distinct style and ambiance, with countless pieces diverse in both theme and presentation. This time, for the fifth exhibition, the artwork on display was a testimony to the personal stories each artist had to offer.

Park's "Receipts" featured a collection of receipts collected over the span of five years, organized according to month. In the center of the wall, Park created a receipt ten times the original size and printed the money spent on university tuition on it. At the bottom of the receipt was a date with the label "F-1 Visa Expires." In the corner was Park's second display titled "Boxes," featuring a cluster of postal boxes from Korea.

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Kyler Pahang's "Sketchbook" follows his journey through the Philippines to visit family and relatives.

In the artwork description, Park explained how failure to gain employment 12 months after graduation would result in the termination of the visa status of an international student. This description puts the artwork in context: It was portraying the irony of how all the resources and time the artist had spent in the United States could all amount to nothing in just a matter of months. In fact, Park's artwork description read that the two pieces were "a reflection of the desire to control a situation I cannot control," and a "physical manifestation of the perpetual awareness toward the fact that I have to 'move out' someday."

Pickler's piece consisting of the ink-drawn portraits titled "If I Could Turn You To Stone, I Would" told a slightly different story. A series of portraits of individuals drawn with black ink, Pickler's artwork was made in collaboration with SARVA (Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Activists), an activist group on campus, to connect with those who had experienced sexual assault, who she interviewed for the piece. In these meetings, she listened to these volunteers’ stories of sexual assault and later created portraits of them from photos she took during the meetings.

As a victim of sexual assault herself, Pickler understood the importance of support from those with similar experiences and wanted to "create an opportunity for healing for them through verbal release."

"The portraits capture a moment of strength in them and allow it to become permanent in time," she explained in the description of the artwork.

This year’s honors graduation exhibition, where these works and many others can be viewed, is on display at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery through Saturday, June 8. After that, the gallery will host the design show from June 13 to 22, which will feature works from students receiving a bachelor’s degree in design.

Reach writer Paris Boo at arts@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @ParisYBoo

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