For a month earlier this semester, Visual, Culture, Arts and Media (VCAM) was the home to a student-curated exhibition, In the Works. Composed completely of student submissions and artwork, the exhibit focused on the unsung beauty of the unfinished, the satisfaction of progression, and the importance of acknowledging growth and change, rather than focusing on completion.
This student-curated exhibition was the brainchild of co-curators Izzy Ray ‘23 and Jalen Martin ‘23, and ran from March 2 through April 12. It featured the works of over 20 student artists of all class years across different media, including paper collage, acrylic painting, digital art, photography, and sculpture.
“Everyone is so eager to ‘get back to normal,’ us included, but it’s also nice to slow down and appreciate the present,” said Martin of the exhibit’s inspiration “The pandemic forced a lot of people into processes of growth, maturation, and self reflection. We wanted our theme to emphasize how essential those processes are.”
The exhibition was also intended to celebrate student artists, he said, and create a sense of unity across campus in a time where many feel disconnected by remote life.
“It was difficult to get physical pieces from Bryn Mawr and otherwise off-campus artists to the gallery space,” said Ray of her curation challenges. “But other than that, we had a really great time! Matthew Callinan from the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery was a huge support in physically installing the works, and we also really appreciated the support and engagement from the student body in submitting works and promoting the exhibition.”
In addition to being one of the exhibition’s curators, Ray had a piece of art featured as well. Her wire and plaster sculpture, “Growing Pains,” (pictured below) is symbolic of much of what the exhibition represents.
“’Growing Pains’ connects to the theme of In the Works literally and figuratively,” said Ray.
“On a physical level, I wanted to draw attention to the art-making process by leaving the chicken wire structure exposed, and leaving the plaster rough rather than sanded. I think that drawing attention to layered construction and material can demystify the art-making process for viewers. The piece also exhibits the discomfort, pain, and beautiful metamorphosis that occurs during personal growth; pushing yourself to be someone you can be proud of requires brutally honest self-reflection and dedication.”
“Teaching yourself how to wake up in the morning, eat, and take care of yourself in some of the hardest times of your life is honestly a feat. I think I was able to express that beauty and turmoil through my use of flowers rupturing the woman’s body in wound-like gaps, as we peer in on her inner growth. Through my use of gold paint lining these wounds, I referenced the Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery with gold (called kintsugi). The woman is more beautiful for having been broken, for having grown through pain.”
In the Works can be viewed from the exhibition website.