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Senior exhibit, titled ‘Identidad,’ on display through May 4

Barry McNamara

MONMOUTH, Ill. – The four Monmouth College students featured in this year’s senior exhibit say they often use art as a way to tell their personal stories. But the artistic methods they use to tell those stories are as different as their stories themselves.

Titled “Identidad: Stories of the Disconnect,” the exhibit featuring works by Javier Abrego, Angelica De Luna, Lily Guillen and Mickayla Valenzuela will be on display through May 4. A reception for the artists will be held from 4-6 p.m. April 21 in the College’s Len G. Everett Gallery, which is on the upper level of Hewes Library. The exhibit and the reception are free and open to the public.

“Identity and exploration of the self is a theme that I focus on heavily in my work,” said De Luna. “While I do enjoy painting with the traditional paint and canvas, what I truly love to do is painting through digital programs. Using bright, vivid and sometimes dream-like colors is my way of trying to get across to the viewer that the places that I paint have only ever existed in my mind.”

Valenzuela also mixes in a fantasy element to tell her story, often incorporating “silly demons.”

“There are not enough silly demons in the world,” she said. “Through my work, I seek to demonstrate to the world that having demons is not horrible – that the demons one might have around them are just trying to help them survive this harsh reality.”

Guillen said that art is a form of “peaceful protest” that could not be more relevant in these times.

“I am a record keeper,” she said. “Through art-making, I am able to tell stories from my life, so I don’t forget how those experiences have led me to my current reality. Many of these stories come from difficult times, but they are not meant to be sad; they are meant to celebrate the fact that these events have been overcome.”

Some of Abrego’s works use candy and toys to tell a story.

“Consumerism and childhood are one in the same,” he said. “There’s something fascinating about the mass-produced quality of both toys and candy. I bring this quality to the art I make. The images I make symbolize the consumer nature of the age we live in while paying homage to the shared experience of our upbringing.”