Work of Heart: Class of 2019 artists draw on personal experiences, create unique show

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For the next four weeks, the artwork of 13 seniors from the College of William and Mary will line the walls and floors of the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center, a quaint yet alluring gallery off Richmond Road. The exhibition hosted a reception Thursday, Feb. 21, where attendees of the gallery had the opportunity to mingle with the artists.

Painters, potters and artists of other various crafts exhibited their works alongside personal narratives. The narratives revealed the significance of the subtle traces of self-expression left by the artists in their work, beckoning the observers to better understand the materialization behind the work.

“I began creating images of objects in response to my experience with chronic illness,” photographer Ellie Grace ’19 writes in her narrative.

“The audience is asked to reconsider each object as a vessel for personality, rather than an object with a predestined purpose.”

In her photographs, Grace counteracts the subliminal activity of inanimate household items with bright colors, lacing azures and vibrant yellows effortlessly through her comical photos of lizards atop telephones and glittery bacon slices. 

Grace has taken particular interest in fellow artist Keeilah Moseley’s ’19 work. Alongside Grace’s photographs stand Moseley’s produced monoprints accompanied by her other painted pieces. 

“It has a raw feeling to it,” Grace said, regarding Moseley’s monoprint. “It provokes a lot of emotion. Maybe it’s because it’s a close-up portrait or maybe the texture of the strokes. Whatever it is, it’s a really powerful piece.”

Community member Lazuli Cristol also found Moseley’s pieces evocative, inspiring and sincerely emotional. Lazuli Cristol was in attendance with others to visit her sister, Indigo Cristol ’19, and view her exhibit.

“I went to support my sister, well-knowing that art means a lot to her,” Lazuli Cristol said. “To me, art is a form of self-expression that everyone can, and should experience.”

Upon a series of stands throughout the studio, Indigo Cristol showcased one of her many aptitudes: ceramics. Indigo Cristol tends to work color into her pottery, oftentimes in surprising places. 

“I really like juxtaposing organic forms and geometric shapes and lines,” Indigo Cristol said in reference to the natural elements of her work. “I like to put unexpected things in my work; occasionally I will paint the bottom of a piece so you get some extra joy when you pick it up!”

Indigo Cristol’s close friend and fellow artist Matt Parciak ’19 takes material-use to a different level. Parciak is a relief printmaker, meaning that he will cut or etch into a surface and leave behind his print, permanently scarring the wood, metal or other material he dedicated to the project.

“Relief printmaking remains my material of choice because of its graphic nature, the emphasis on the process, and the presence of material in the final image,” Parciak wrote in his personal memo.

Parciak, who is from a small town in New Jersey, has been surrounded by rolling hills, enormous trees and scenic views for the vast majority of his life. Thus, he has gravitated towards the landscape as his preferred subject.

“The landscape inspires me as a subject because the natural forms are both unexpected, yet familiarly organic,” Parciak wrote. “It provides me with the freedom to jump from realism to abstraction.”

Parciak, along with the other senior artists at the gallery, collectively agree that the program has inevitably brought the group remarkably close. Under the guidance of professor Mike Jabbur, the artist’s talents have flourished, preparing them for prosperous art careers following graduation. In an email, Jubbar wrote that he hoped his students gained a greater understanding of the work behind exhibitions through the Senior Capstone Show.

“They will gain an understanding of how the hard work of preparing an exhibition is sometimes paired with the thrill and satisfaction of seeing their work hanging in a gallery,” Jabbur wrote.

From now until graduation, the artists will put the finishing touches on major projects, works that will go into another art show at the end of the year.

“The [Senior Capstone] exhibition is an opportunity for graduating studio art majors to have a show at a professional gallery off campus before their large end-of-year exhibition in the Andrews Gallery,” Jabbur wrote.

The experience gained through the installation of their pieces into the gallery of the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center has been considered invaluable, by the professors and students alike. The Senior Capstone Show will be open to the public, free of cost, through March 15.

“Undoubtfully, this is one of the most influential art installations for all young people in Williamsburg right now,” Lazuli Cristol said. “Even if you are not an artist, you should take the time to come out and appreciate the work done by these students.”