By Sydney Hakes
As the end of the academic school year draws near, the art department has its own tradition to highlight its seniors before they walk across the stage to grab their diplomas. The BFA Senior Exhibition is the capstone project for bachelors of fine arts candidates and invites the community to see the work created during their college career.
Five seniors make up the roster of the spring 2023 show: Kilian Croghan, Rachel Hoffstatter, Emily Lord, Tram “Zoe” Nguyen and Roldnardy Norelus have spent a rigorous few months anticipating and preparing for this single show.
Each artist hand-selected their collection, all with around 20 pieces representing their body of work and all created during their senior year.
They’ve spent their final semester curating the show, from deciding on what pieces to include, then framing them and presenting their work at the reception. “I didn’t realize how much of it was preparation,” Croghan said. “It’s been stressful at times for sure, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Croghan wears many hats as an artist, with his mediums ranging from watercolor to oil paint to digital illustration.
He often depicts landscapes and likes his collections to follow a narrative. For the BFA collection, Croghan’s theme of “using color in unusual ways” is splattered across all his canvases. This theme translates well across his wide scope of mediums, making his 22-piece collection visually cohesive.
His process of framing his works added a layer of personality to his collection. All of the frames were built by Croghan’s grandfather, a familiar warmth around Croghan’s color-inspired works.
Although they use the same medium, digital artists Norelus and Nguyen have independent styles that are easily indentifiable. Norelus depicts monochrome scenery, using text as a focal point. Nguyen has a style that pops, bright colors and abstract figures. She also designed the retro colorblock poster for the BFA show.
Lord has a defined medium too, mainly working in photography. Her 19-piece collection follows themes of memory, time and aging. She said this series specifically gets at “how we consume thoughts and how we may forget them.”
Like Croghan, “stress” was a word Lord brought up when reflecting on the show. “It’s time-consuming between the actual work, and then the time we spend thinking about what this body of work will say and how it will affect everyone who views it,” Lord said. “It’s a lot of questions going through our heads on how to create a cohesive body and what to leave on the cutting room floor.”
Lord acknowledged that these challenges were part of a unique experience of curating an art show. It’s something that not all students may get a chance to do in college, but the BFA show allows the students to get a small glimpse behind the scenes of the art scene they may be working at in the future.
While the BFA show is busy for fine arts students, they also claim it to be the most rewarding. The show is a testament to the students’ time at Plattsburgh, a bookend to their collegiate chapter.
As for the future, the seniors are all headed toward their own goals, but the path is the same. Their passion for art will extend beyond Plattsburgh. Croghan hopes to open his own business selling prints and taking commissions. Lord dreams of becoming a museum collections manager and continuing her photography on the side. They acknowledge the art faculty for their help in molding these dreams, and for their help in developing the exhibition as a stepping stone of reaching those dreams.
The BFA Senior Exhibition will be on display April 16 to May 20 in the Joseph C. & Joan T. Burke Gallery in Myers Fine Arts Building. The reception is April 16 at 3 p.m.