Barry McNamara  |  Published September 23, 2020

Class of 2020 Show

Five members of Monmouth’s Class of ’20 – three May graduates and two current students – featured in new art exhibit in Everett Gallery.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Three May graduates of Monmouth College and two students who are completing their degrees this semester are featured in the “2020 Senior Art Exhibition,” which is on display through Oct. 8 in the Len G. Everett Gallery of the College’s Hewes Library.

“There are five artists exhibiting work, and each has a different approach to what is shown,” said Monmouth art professor Stephanie Baugh. “This variety of approaches to the exhibition has created a vibrant and exciting experience.”

Some of the students’ art is available online, including short films by May graduate Natalie Cordoba and works by online student Gabrielle Nance.

Cordoba also has an installation at the exhibit.

“I created my second body of work, Rising Above, during the beginning stages of the pandemic,” she said. “Because of all the shock and negative outcomes of COVID-19, I wanted to create something positive and uplifting. The hot air balloon sculptures are meant to symbolize the idea that eventually we will rise above this pandemic.”

Emily Mathews, another May graduate, is showing works that were mostly created after the stay-at-home orders were given last spring.

“Throughout my time and journey as an artist, I have experimented with a variety of different mediums, as well as numerous topics within my work,” she said. “One theme, however, that I feel has been prominent and has stuck throughout this exploration is the idea of self-expression and using art as a creative and seemingly therapeutic outlet. My most recent work consists of my own personal exploration with color variety, as well as expressionism.”

The third May graduate with works on display is Amy Vellenga-Buban.

“My current body of work consists of humanoid animals, which are meant to convey the human condition in a humorous way,” she said. “My paintings contain a message personal to me – I struggle with common problems like insecurities and doubt from time to time. I aim to express these emotions and thoughts through this series of unusual art.”

Like Nance, Emily DeWitt is completing her degree this fall. She is studying on campus, and some of her work in the exhibit was created this semester.

“The process of creating art makes me happy and gives me a sense of fulfillment,” she said. “I am inspired by colors, forms and creatures that are found throughout nature. Many of my works center around these elements and they also have elements of storytelling as well. Research is a large part of my creative process. I draw most of my inspiration from looking into different endangered species, learning about their populations, and what is threatening them into extinction.”

DeWitt believes it is important to “shed a light” on endangered species.

“If we don’t raise awareness now, these creatures could be lost forever,” she said.

Nance’s art turns photos into drawings, and she described her creative process.

“I start with taking pictures,” she said. “When shooting, I make sure to take photos that have great amounts of contrast and interesting lighting. After shooting my photos, I edit them so I can fix the color, shadows and image noise. Depending on the image, I may edit things further, making the picture have otherworldly qualities.

“After that, I digitally draw over my photo, making a sketch before committing to linework. When it comes to drawing, I make sure to keep the right balance between illustration and photo, drawing just enough to enhance the narrative of the photo, but not overpower it. After I finish my drawing, I do a final round of editing, this time altering the hue, contrast and lighting so I can have high contrast, colorful pieces.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no public events or receptions will be held this year for exhibits in the Everett Gallery. Following College policies, individuals visiting the gallery must wear masks, practice social distancing and refrain from touching doorways and walls.

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