Fine Arts Fest Puts Fantasy on Display

Student art is celebrated at Loyola’s annual Fine Arts Festival.

Students, parents, faculty and friends perused a fantastical gallery at Loyola’s annual Fine Arts Festival Feb. 10. The room buzzed as people discussed the colorful art, congratulating student artists whose work was featured. 

The festival, held in the Ralph Arnold Fine Arts Annex, celebrated student art in a juried gallery which is a show selected through a competitive process. Fine arts students were invited to submit their work and Chicago-area art curator Matt Moris selected the pieces featured in the show. 

The Fine Arts Festival featured several activities for attendees to enjoy like button making and pottery throwing.

Rylee Tomes, a 20-year-old sophomore, spent time camped out near the button press, cutting up magazines to turn them into pins. She said it was inspiring to see artwork by people her age.

“So much of the art that’s available to us is by older people,” Tomes, an English and visual communication major, said. “I think that seeing voices my age expressing themselves through art is really phenomenal.”

The whimsical artwork included small sculptures of vaginas, photographed portraits and abstract paintings, creating a gallery experience comparable to a perplexing fairytale.

Betsy Odom, an advanced lecturer in sculpture at Loyola, said the show was curated with a focus on creating a conversation between all the pieces, instead of choosing simply the best submissions.

Rafael Vera, a senior lecturer in fine arts at Loyola who co-directs the Ralph Arnold gallery with Odom, said the student jury exhibit is a great opportunity for students and spectators to see what work is coming out of the Fine Arts Department at Loyola.

“Fine Art students should go through the experience of what it is to exhibit their artwork to the public,” Vera said. “One of the main goals of being an artist is to communicate with a larger audience.”

The first prize in the contest went to “The Curse of the Red Shoes,” an oil painting by Kelly Pepping, a junior studying political science.

The striking portrait depicts a still from the 1948 film “The Red Shoes” which is based on an 1845 fairytale of the same name by Hans Christain Andersen. The dramatic film follows the story of an ill-fated woman trying to pursue both her passion for dance and romantic love, and meets a tragic end.

The painted scene features the ambitious star ballerina, Vicky, squaring off against the lead of the ballet who is insisting she cannot be a great dancer and also maintain a romantic life.

“I feel like in that moment in the movie she was saying ‘I am going to pursue love and dance,’ and that did lead to her demise,” Pepping said. “But I felt like that was one of the most powerful moments of the movie.”

Sara Akhtar, a senior double majoring in studio art and visual communications, had a painted self-portrait she said represented two sides of herself, which at times can feel disconnected. One of them stands upright in a green suit while the other version sits crying in a clown collar. 

“It’s cool to watch everyone’s evolution and go through the same struggles of trying to make your stuff meaningful,” Akhtar, 22, said.

“Burnout” an etching on a copper plate featured in the gallery which depicts a vase of dried flowers which the artist Catherine Kammerer, a junior studio art major, said is a representation of being completely drained of ideas. 

“In a way, it does feel kind of vulnerable because it is like the first time, even though it is through school, it feels like your official step into exhibiting work,” Kammerer said. 

The Ralph Arnold Fine Arts Complex will feature the student art pieces from Feb. 3 until March 3.

Featured image by Heather Higgins | The Phoenix

Heather Higgins

Heather Higgins