The Collegian
Monday, October 02, 2023

Senior studio art majors to present their work

Seven senior studio art majors will exhibit works across a variety of media at "Feed Me Art," the 2010 senior thesis exhibition, from April 16 to May 9.

The exhibition, which will take place at the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art on campus and at Russell/Projects Annex at the Plant Zero complex in downtown Richmond, features photography, a graphic novel, painting, installation, printmaking and digital videos.

"This capstone experience for the seniors shows the range of ways of making art," Richard Waller, executive director of University Museums, said. "It also says something about our studio art program here. The students can pursue their own passions, it's not all one type of art."

The seven students: Jonathan Ashe, Megan Bell, Leigh Donahue, Anthony Ferguson, Ashley Foxen, John Frey and Amy Mathis, have worked since the fall semester on creating their own bodies of work, an artist statement that describes the intent of their art and the exhibition itself, Waller said.

The annual exhibition usually takes place both on campus and at a location downtown, chosen by the faculty. This year, however, the students had the responsibility of finding a downtown location for the exhibition, Waller said.

After looking at several galleries, the group decided on Russell/Projects Annex, a space owned by Heather Russell, a professor of art history at Virginia Commonwealth University. Russell, who was enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with students from Richmond, decided to rent the space to the students for free.

In addition to the gallery's usual visitors, Russell said she expected that it would get between 3,000 and 5,000 visitors on April 25 for Earth Day Weekend, when Plant Zero, the complex the gallery is located in, will be hosting a portion of the festival called Art Works.

"It's been a little bit stressful and challenging because for a while we weren't sure if we would be able to secure an off-campus space in time, but we got really lucky with Russell/Projects Annex at Plant Zero," Bell said.

The students, with the help of Waller, have also been responsible for putting together the exhibition: where and how art will be framed and installed, designing announcement cards and naming the exhibition.

Ferguson said planning the exhibition had been harder than he expected.

"You have to take into account everybody's needs, spatially and conceptually, since everyone is doing something completely different," he said.

Ferguson's body of work, "Spiritual Struggle Through Comic Fragmentation," is a series of oil paintings in cartoon-language that reference challenging aspects of Christian theology.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

"My paintings are a method of grappling with why we suffer, how we should and shouldn't respond to suffering, and what God has to do with all of this," he said.

He said that his work was often fueled by frustration and passion and that he even blew off Pig Roast to finish some paintings.

Mathis's body of work, "Utterances of Broken Space," will consist of three installations, two at Russell/Projects Annex titled "Radio" and "Ictineo" and one in the Harnett Museum titled, "de la manana."

"My installation for Russell Projects involves a fan blowing on a soft sculpture that rests on an elevated board with a light radiating out from under it," Mathis said. "I like to think of it as a disrupted kinetic sculpture. It's titled 'Ictineo' after a pioneering submarine project from a Spanish engineer from Barcelona in the late 1850s."

In her artist statement, Mathis said her work revolved around the question of her true place in the world and responded to the ambiguity that comes out of jumbled ideas of home, mistranslation and language barriers.

Bell's work is titled "Distortion of the Urban Landscape," and consists of a series of prints composed of photopolymer etching, collage, acrylic paint and even graphic pen.

"I combine images of cityscapes and other urban architectural elements with everyday objects, often playing with their relationship in scale," she said. "I'm not trying to force any particular message upon the viewer, but I'm hoping it will make them consider how we view structure, order and displacement in relation to our physical environment, particularly with the increase in urbanization."

The exhibition will open on April 16 at the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum and Russell/Projects Annex and a reception will take place from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Russell/Projects Annex.

Contact reporter Elise Reinemann at

Support independent student media

You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.

Donate Now