Student artists featured in BFA Juried Exhibit

Student artists featured in BFA Juried Exhibit

The University of Alabama Department of Art and Art History will host its annual Bachelors of Fine Arts Juried Exhibition at Harrison Galleries from April 18- April 28, with an artists reception on Friday April 22 from 6-9 p.m. CW | Jonathan Daniels

Behind the doors of the buildings encircling Woods Quad, student artists spend their days and nights creating pieces designed to stand out from the crowd and punctuate their time at the University. This weekend, a juried exhibition will help a few selected students do just that. 

The University of Alabama Department of Art and Art History will host its annual Bachelors of Fine Arts Juried Exhibition at Harrison Galleries from April 18 – April 28, with an artists reception on Friday, April 22 from 6-9 p.m. It will feature faculty-selected pieces by students currently working towards their BFA. Exhibitors include Ausharea Adams, Kathryn Bornhoft, Lindsey Comas, Graham Harrison, Margaret Ermert, Meg Howton, Tanika Powers, Jamie Reschke and Haylee Walker.   

Many of the participating BFA students are graduating soon and planning the next step in their artistic careers.

Ausharea Adams, a senior majoring in fine arts, submitted a photograph for the exhibition that featured a human figure. Adams said most of her current work features bodies in one form or another.

 “I’m interested in the body, having it interact with nature, and also having bodies interact with one other,” Adams said. “That’s something that constantly comes up in my work.”

Adams said she often serves as her own model, and she believed most of her pieces were guided by her introspection and tendency for self-critique. 

“During that self-exploration, like constantly looking at myself and critiquing myself, I start to zoom in on these little moments that I like,” Adams said. “I enjoy abstracting those, and getting to a point where you’re not really sure what you’re looking at, but you know it’s bodily. I just kept going with that. I spend a lot of my time in my body, obviously, so it makes sense that I would want to explore that and try to understand it. I like setting these challenges for myself that I have to do. I don’t know why, but I have to do it.”

This is Adams’ fifth year in the BFA program, and she anticipates graduating sometime in the next few semesters. She said she has been preparing to become a professional artist in Birmingham.

“Right now I just want to experience being an artist as a profession and see what it’s like,” Adams said. “I’m worried about visibility and being able to sustain my practice financially. I’m mostly afraid that I won’t stay on top of things, and I’ll end up doing something completely different. Though I kind of doubt that’ll happen, because I only really see myself doing something creative.”

Adams said she is willing to take a risk because art is the only discipline in which she finds real enjoyment and room for growth.

“That’s why it’s something I’ve been trying to figure out how to sustain,” Adams said. “Because at an institution you kind of have an audience built in to critique your work and care about your work. Once you leave, it’s like, ‘Well, who cares? Who cares about my art?’ You have to go find and audience and you have to make them care. So that’s another thing I’m worried about, but that I’m excited about.”

Tanika Powers, a senior majoring in painting, created a series of monotypes of desserts which were selected for the juried exhibition. 

Powers said right now she is most interested in sexuality and its portrayal in art, and the selected piece was one of her tamest recent works. From afar, the work looks like a set of desserts, but upon closer inspection, its explicit nature is revealed. 

“I play on pop culture and different songs,” Powers said. “I definitely take a lot from my own life and my experiences and the things I encounter and conversations with my friends. And it’s also just me, a woman, being sexual in society. That’s always an undertone of my stuff.”

Powers said her subject matter does elicit strong reactions from most people, usually causing discomfort even during her in-class critiques. 

“There’s a lot of drawbacks,” Powers said. “Like, some people are afraid to talk about it. But we do it, you know? I’m just very open and I feel like that’s the way my art is. Like, we eat desserts in public, and I think sexuality and sex should be the same. It’s okay to follow your pleasures. I don’t think people should be weird about it. I think we shouldn’t have to worry about being judged, so I try to make people feel the way I want to feel and make people think about why [the art] makes them uncomfortable.”

After graduation, Powers plans to move back home, so she can spend time with her family. She said creating art without the guidelines dictated by art classes will be a new challenge. 

“I don’t see any problem with it,” Powers said. “I’m not too stressed. I figure life will start, eventually. I’m more focused on the now. I know I’m going to go to grad school, but I want to take time and explore. I’m young. I’m in my '20s. It’s up in the air.”

Kathryn Bornhoft, a senior majoring in sculpture, is a non-traditional student graduating in December, an event which she said is a long time coming. Her piece selected for the juried exhibition is a painted plaster sculpture composed of a series of organic shapes. Bornhoft said each shape is individually painted, and when viewed in its entirety the piece is meant to evoke a fruit going from ripe to rotten. 

This juxtaposition of vibrancy with the grotesque is a theme through Bornhoft’s work. She said she does this intentionally, to remind her audience that darkness is necessary for beauty. 

“My work is definitely on the provocative range of things,” Bornhoft said. “The figures are generally in the nude, and I like to play with the difference between the beauty and the grotesque. And that’s not for everyone, and that’s okay. It’s not a shock factor; I’m just interested in that reaction, because the story I put behind it isn’t the story you’ll think of. I’m not making this for my story; I’m making it to make you think of your stories.”

Bornhoft said she has experienced severe medical problems for years, which adds to the stories tucked away in each piece. It also fuels her desire to remind the audience that beauty and pain can coexist. 

She said she is excited for her graduation and looks forward to her artistic career in Tuscaloosa. 

“I have finally found a pathway for my art,” Bornhoft said, referring to her summer studio and upcoming gallery shows. “I know my work is not for everybody, and I understand that my work is not going to have a completely generalized audience. But I want to make sure I’m getting done what I need to and finding a place for my art within the community.”

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