Graduating artists' work covers the 'spectrum'
Five senior art students are taking the last step toward graduation as they prepare the final exhibition of their work at the University of Science and Arts.
An opening reception is scheduled at 7 p.m. on March 31 in the USAO Art Gallery. The event is free, open to the public and refreshments will be provided.
The USAO art faculty will be providing cash awards to graduating bachelor of fine arts (BFA) students. The Bachelor of Fine Arts Award of Merit is presented to the BFA student or students deemed by the USAO art faculty as having excelled overall as an artist in the areas of professionalism, quality of work and conceptual development. The award is offered annually.
The gallery will offer a People’s Choice Award that will be decided by visitor ballots and announced on April 17 at 11 a.m. in the main gallery.
The five artists are Bridgette Bullock, Chelsea LaGace, Alyssa Pence, Lori Spray and Sarah Yandle.
Bullock, an Oklahoma City resident who works primarily in ceramics, came to USAO with aspirations to focus on digital photography. After her first contact working with clay, she realized she had found her true calling.
“It only took a year of studying fundamentals and one awesome ceramics class to realize I couldn’t spend the rest of my time at college staring at a computer,” Bullock said.
Bullock has found her inspiration in the abstract, explaining that her work “explores human emotions” through pieces that suggest deceptive centers of gravity that “pull at the clay just as strong feelings pull at a person.”
LaGace is a resident of Wayne who has used her time at USAO to focus on graphic design. Her first introduction to USAO came when she visited the campus to participate in the annual Montmartre chalk festival.
LaGace was impressed with the university’s interdisciplinary studies program as a complement to her training as an artist.
“I really liked that everything was integrated,” LaGace said, adding that “even though I wanted to study graphic design, I got a solid grounding in everything from painting to sculpture.”
LaGace’s contribution to the show features a series of photographs of USAO soccer teams in action.
“When I took this series of photos,” LaGace said, “I was impressed with the energy that they captured. There was a design quality to them that I felt complemented the work I have done here.”
LaGace hopes to stay in Oklahoma in her search for graphic design work and feels confident that her time at USAO was well spent.
“Anyone can sit at home and learn how to use graphic design software but without gaining an understanding of the fundamentals of design and composition, they will be likely to make the same mistakes over and over without improving. I’m grateful for the constructive feedback I’ve received that has sharpened my craft to the point that I feel like I’m ready to go out there and work,” LaGace said.
Pence was valedictorian at Little Axe High School and has spent her time at USAO studying graphic design and illustration. Her work in the show blends the natural with the fantastic, featuring curious characters as her subject.
“My artwork combines the beauty of nature with the power of the imagination,” Pence said.
“I love the transitional forms found on plants and animals and want others to experience this beauty as well.”
Pence is seeking work as an illustrator with an specific interest in greeting cards. She wants to branch out into doing work as a graphic novelist, telling stories in comics form, to accommodate her character-driven illustrations.
Spray, a resident of Anadarko, specializes in mixed media sculpture. Her work displays a vivid sense of imagination that uses recognizable forms but in unexpected ways.
Spray is applying to graduate schools with an aspiration to earn her master of fine arts degree. She credits some of her desire to continue her studies to USAO’s unique mission as an interdisciplinary, liberal arts university.
“I went to another university before USAO and the professors weren’t available in the same way as here. As an artist, I felt like I had a special advantage in some of the IDS courses as studying art history had given me a framework to appreciate the other things going on in history.”
Yandle is a mixed-media artist from Noble. She credits her high school art instructor, Kika Dressler, an alumna, with introducing her to USAO. Like LaGace, her first contact with the school came through the chalk art festival.
Yandle’s work in the show is sculptural but uses a thoughtful mixture of materials, including wire, feather, wood and clay, to express her vision.
She said that she learned valuable lessons from every member of the USAO art faculty and feels a sense of security in having studied in such a well-rounded program.
“The art curriculum here at USAO has prepared me to do anything I can conceive, “ Yandle said.
The Spectrum exhibition will be on display in the USAO Art Gallery in Davis Hall through April 20. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Additional information about the show and the gallery can obtained by calling 574-1239 or by visiting the gallery’s website online at usao.edu/gallery/schedule.