By Jessica Vento
Taking a journey into the art world can create a whirlwind of colors, lines and patterns that might leave your head spinning. Students participating in the Senior Thesis Art Exhibit, hosted by Rider’s Art Gallery in the Bart Luedeke Center, hope to generate that experience for visitors.
Hard work, dedication and creativity are evident when audiences view work from the exhibition’s seniors fine art majors Hira A. Ansari, Kristen Streeter, Johnie Williams and senior fine arts and psychology major Sarah Dillon. The artwork of the four seniors has been showcased since April 25 and will continue until May 5.
Ansari said that her artwork was inspired by “some of the greatest artists like Paul Cézanne, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and many others, along with life and nature.”
Ansari expressed her admiration for her professors she had the privilege of learning from since she started at Rider.
“Deborah Rosenthal has been my mentor and professor in art since the beginning,” she said. “She has really helped me grow and understand concepts that were beyond my comprehension before I met her. Her encouragement got me to where I am as an art student and graphic designer today.”
Rosenthal, professor of fine arts, instituted senior honors thesis exhibitions more than 20 years ago and has sponsored them almost every year since. She feels it’s an important capstone experience for studio-art majors.
“Hira Ansari and Sarah Dillon, working under my direction, use traditional sources of inspiration—great artists of the past,” Rosenthal said. “Hira and Sarah both worked exclusively from live models and from invention — and not from photographs or projections.”
Ansari enjoys the networking opportunities and close-knit learning community at Rider.
“Learning in a small classroom definitely has its advantages,” she said. “I would have never gotten this far if I didn’t have this type of relationship with my professors.”
Another one of Rosenthal’s advisees, Dillon started exploring abstraction, her use of abstract forms had an organic feel to them, Dillon explained. Looking at artists such as the American painter Arthur Dove and the German artist of the Blue Rider group, Franz Marc, she found “kindred spirits.”
“My recent pictures are studies, in oil paints and crayons, of the interaction between the curves of a horse,” Dillon said. “My use of schematic color or non-naturalistic color helps highlight the relationship between curve and line, a concept learned from Marc, who has become my main source of inspiration.”
Streeter said that she was inspired how expressive the human face could be.
“The bend of the eyes around the head, slightly downturned in thought or crushed down in agony, how the lips purse and release, or spread wide in a smile — I’m most interested in that, and the countenance that can be conveyed by using those features in combination with one another,” Streeter said.
Streeter expresses her gratitude for having the opportunity to work with such a noteworthy professor.
“Professor Harry Naar influenced my work very heavily, as I was nowhere near the skill level I have now when I started working with him,” Streeter said. “He’s a great teacher and easy to talk to.”
Naar, a professor of fine arts, in addition to being the students’ adviser, acknowledged Steeter’s and Williams’ dedication to the art world.
“I was really impressed by Johnie and Kristen’s artwork,” Naar said. “They worked really hard, experimented, and pushed themselves to another level.They weren’t complacent with what they were trying to do. For me what’s really interesting is that I have two students who are very diverse, which is a really important part of the way I teach.”
Williams reflects in his thesis that in his exhibit, he uses “a combination of direct observations of people, places, and photographs.”
With Naar’s advisement and influences from artists such as Rembrant, William A. Bouguereau, Pontormo, Cézanne, Renoir, Degas and Monet, he researched “painting styles and techniques used by the masters in helping me to understand color theory and realism.”
Naar explained how imperative it is for students to share their art in a formal setting.
“I think that it is important for students to have a place for their work, especially for students who have worked on extended projects,” Naar said. “I feel that it is so important for the students to show their artwork to other students, professors, faculty and administrators.”
To view the exhibit, gallery hours are open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
Printed in the 5/3/13 edition.