Seniors in UNC’s studio art program are giving audiences a sneak peek into their semester-long projects that tackle modern issues like immigration, deportation and environmental crises.
The exhibition, “Present,” opened Nov. 7 in the John and June Allcott Undergraduate Gallery in Hanes Art Center and features student work from two senior projects classes, ARTS 499 and ARTS 691H. It will remain open through Nov. 21.
UNC senior Barron Northrup's work is featured in this exhibition. He said he would not consider his piece completed, but that this exhibition serves as a checkpoint for the development of his project.
“This class is sort of designed to be 'in progress,'” Northrup said.
His inspiration came from the Cellist of Sarajevo. During the Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s, despite the threat of snipers and mortar shells, a cellist played out in the open to honor the victims of the siege.
“He was able to speak hope into a hopeless situation,” Northrup said. “So that's what I want to do.”
Northrup said he worked this theme into his larger goal of tackling environmental crises by making a sculpture out of abandoned, trashed and reclaimed items.
While he said he knows his project is not dealing with something as severe as the loss of civilian life in war, Northrup hopes his use of discarded items to make musical instruments will bring hope to our seemingly hopeless environmental crises.
“Most of these items here were headed for the landfill,” he said. “I didn't dig any of them out of the trash, I just stopped them all on their way.”
Cynthia Carcamo is another senior whose work is featured in this exhibition. Her work consists of a painted portrait of two subjects overlaying a collage of family photos and handwritten notes, to convey her central theme of immigration.
“Being on the outside, you don't really understand what they go through,” Carcamo said.
She hopes her work will get audiences to consider the different narratives that exist involving immigration.
Pax Rudenko also chose to focus on immigration in her work.
“My family was actually deported in 2010,” Rudenko said. “Being separated for nine years has been very difficult. And to this day, we all struggle with just not being together.”
Rudenko said her time in the UNC studio art program helped her improve her technique so that now, in her senior year, she felt prepared to take on this deeply personal project — something she had told herself she would not do at school.
“I found the case file that was the beginning of the end for us,” Rudenko said. “I read through it and chose to redact certain information and basically make poetry out of the documents in order to reclaim our narrative, to share our story the way that I see it.”
She said the project has served as a healing process for her, and she hopes audiences are inspired to begin their own healing processes after viewing her work.
“I got tired of feeling alone and isolated and hopeless,” Rudenko said. “I decided that my tragedy was going to become my strength and my pillar that I was going to move forward from.”
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