The Department of Art and Art History’s major annual art exhibition, entitled “Recomposition”, opened on Thursday, April 21 at the Michael and Noémi Neidoff Art Gallery. Eight students — Jay Dunn, Maren Merwarth, Chryslyn Perkins, Ren Rader*, Juliet Sikorski, Lila Steffan, Denise Turati, and Bygoe Zubiate — contributed a total of 25 pieces to the exhibit. The exhibition will continue through May 21 during normal Neidorff Gallery hours of operation, 1-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and by appointment.
Jon Lee, art teacher and academic advisor for “Recomposition,” helped organize the exhibit and made sure students were prepared.
The students started [preparing] building a portfolio by selecting their best and most consistent work from their previous work done during their 4 years at Trinity,” said Lee.
Students were also asked to submit an artist statement for their largest body of work, a practice Lee hopes has prepared them for all future professional gallery exhibitions.
“Our goal is to teach these young artists how to become professional artists if they choose to do so. These statements provide additional context for jurors and viewers. Working on a statement also helps artists focus critically on their work, as it forces them to verbally summarize their work with precision,” Lee said.
Lee also mentioned that the students had participated in a previous exhibition which helped them gain experience in preparing for a show. This exhibition, the 17th annual collegiate exhibition in the fall of 2021, included studio art majors from different schools in San Antonio.
The director and professor of the Neidoff Gallery, Benjamin McVey, was less involved in the preparation of this exhibition than the other exhibitions of the gallery.
“There was more preparation for Jon Lee, the faculty member overseeing the senior performers than there was on my side. The show is really supposed to be about older people and so they had the responsibility of putting on the exhibit. From my end, I just started working with them to refine their footage so we could gather information about the show,” McVey said.
McVey also met with the seniors to discuss the physical layout of the exhibit, saying it was a simple process largely because all of the works are hung, so the wall space was the only real need.
Senior Art Major Maren Merwarth features five pieces in the exhibition, most of which were created specifically for this exhibition.
“I had exhibited a work in the Mini last semester, and another that I completed during the 2020 lockdown. The remaining works and frames were completed for show purposes,” Merwarth said.
Merwarth’s pieces highlight the cyclical changes between art forms and use old materials to create new works.
“The themes of my work in this exhibition have two different sources of inspiration,” Merwarth said. “Two of my pieces deal with the revival of classical portraiture, and the other three deal with the recycling of materials through the prism of contemporary themes.”
All of Merwarth’s pieces are also on sale, along with ten other pieces from the gallery. “I decided to put them up for sale because selling art allows for additional exposure at the gallery and gives me additional achievement to put on my resume,” Merwarth said.
His piece “Illona” was purchased by Trinity for the university’s permanent collection. “Illona” is also Merwarth’s first work from a gallery to be purchased, and she said seeing her art seen outside of a university classroom was thrilling.
McVey and Merwarth mentioned the structure of the gallery walls when asked about the preparation for the exhibition.
“What I really like about this show is that the students chose to do a little different layout. Usually people put up the walls or make some kind of space, but [the seniors] put them in [diagonal] slash marks in the middle of the gallery space. We messed around and moved the walls around a bit, and settled on this interesting and dynamic layout,” McVey said.
Lee, McVey and the seniors all met in the gallery space to discuss the layout, eventually landing on the diagonal walls.
From a student’s perspective, the layout of the gallery helps to make all rooms equal. “The whole class thought about the wall space and the placement of the [our] works. I thought the diagonal composition of the gallery’s floating walls would allow more works to be visible when you enter the gallery, ensuring that no one’s art was highlighted more than others,” said Merwarth.
The title of the show, “Recomposition,” was a collaborative effort among all of the students.
Merwarth said, “We felt recomposition was a word that defined the similarities between all of our work, even as we approach the subject through different styles, mediums and materials.”
The title even has hints of how the individuals affect each other.
Discussing the title, Lee said, “These seniors have spent a good chunk of their time separated by the pandemic. Once they had the opportunity to come together in person, they realized how much they influence and affect each other in their work, even as they piece together each other’s ideas and work. So the title of the show relates to their understanding of the importance of being together, of thinking together, of the power of each other’s influence, in a good way.
*Ren Rader is an illustrator for the Trinitonian.