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Keuka College’s Annual Senior Art Show Asks ‘Who Are You?’

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Art by Ayrielle Zeno '19. She and three of her fellow senior art and design majors will showcase their art in the culmination of their College careers April 22-May 17.

Each year, Keuka College showcases its student artists in their own exhibits. The annual Senior Art Show offers the College’s seniors a chance to display some of the work they have created as the culmination of their Keuka College careers.

This year’s Senior Art Show, titled “Who Are You?,” features four senior art and design majors —Darian Staufer, Travis Krupinski, Ayrielle Zeno, and Arianna “Ari” Brown. Their art, ranging from photography, to painting, to mixed media, will be displayed April 22-May 17 in Lightner Library’s Lightner Gallery. 

An artists’ reception, free and open to the public, will be held Thursday, April 25, from 4:30-6 p.m. in Lightner Gallery. Light refreshments will be available, and art will be for sale.

“The art majors anxiously anticipate year four, when they know it’s time to plan their senior work and exhibit,” says Melissa Newcomb associate professor of art. “Nerves settle in along with excitement with only February to early April to come up with a theme and execute it successfully in time for a show.”

For their final show, Melissa says the students were encouraged to venture outside of their comfort zones and explore their own unique style. Each student’s series reflects what they are passionate about, what they want to say, or echoes of who they are, she says. 

“These four students have decided to tell their story and share a part of their life with the viewers,” says Melissa. “This group of four is a mix of some of our most shy and quiet students who are sharing something personal and meaningful to them.”

Personal and Meaningful

Travis, Darian, Ari, and Ayrielle are each submitting personal pieces for their final show as students.

For Darian, it’s a black-and-white self-portrait titled “Help Me.” In the photo, Darian’s hand is close to the lens while her face is blurred in the background. 

“This piece is the most important photograph that will be in my series,” says Darian. “My project is based on the journey through depression. When people view this piece, I want them to relate to it in their own way, whether they have been through depression or know someone who has been through it.”

She believes pictures can tell a story and with this project, Darian is sharing her own story, through not only dark days but the bright days that lie ahead. 

For Travis, bright days combine his love of art with his love of music.

“I have many artists that inspire me, such as the great impressionist artists Monet, Friedrich, and Manet,” he says. “More than just visual art, I am inspired by musicians such as Hank Williams, Credence Clearwater Revival, and many others.” 

The pieces he has chosen for the show “should give the viewer the feeling of being at a live show; my favorite piece being my own guitar.” 

Ayrielle believes she has a personal connection to each of her pieces as they are reflections of her life, but one in particular stands out—one depicting her relationship with her boyfriend.

“It showcases the history of our friendship into a relationship, and all of the memories that have been made along the way,” she says. “When people see it, I hope they sense the love and strong connection between two individuals.”

Like Ayrielle, Ari feels a strong connection to all of her art as well.

“I’m not quite sure which piece will be my favorite, as all of them hold a special meaning to me,” she says. “I’m hoping that those coming to the show will be able to enjoy the pieces, and feel the emotion tied within each one.”

Emotions as a Motivator

Emotion is a powerful motivator for each student, and while the choice of medium may be different, it’s art they turn to as an emotional release.

“My favorite medium would definitely be photography,” says Darian. “To me, pictures are a very powerful use of art, because pictures can tell you a whole story, tell part of a story, or make someone feel a specific emotion. Another reason I love photography is because it has allowed me to find a way to cope with stress, and I can take whatever emotion I'm feeling and put it into my photography.” 

Just as Darian uses photography to create her own stories and emotions through a photograph, Ayrielle also finds comfort behind the lens. She says art is freeing, allowing her to release whatever emotions she has.

Learning from Others

And Ayrielle credits Professor Emeritus Dexter Benedict with helping her find an outlet for her feelings.

“He’s always been able to see what I was seeing in my head, and could give me tips on where to go next if I was stuck,” she says. “He inspires me, and has always been super supportive of anything I was doing. He truly has been one of my favorite people, not only to have had guide me through things, but to have been able to meet and speak with over the last four years.”

As a photographer, Darian says, she has been learning the ins and outs of the camera from her aunt.

“She attended RIT for photography, and growing up watching her take photos to create our family story inspired me the most,” says Darian. “Knowing that no matter what, we have these memories captured forever is comforting, and it inspired me to get into photography and create the stories of my own.”

Darian also credits the opportunities of working with Brett Williams, former digital media producer at the College; photographer Spencer Tulis from the Finger Lakes Times; Brandon Vick, a freelance photographer from Rochester; art professor Melissa; and designer Carrie Van Valkenburg, co-owner of ReFind in Penn Yan.

“All of these people have helped me grow as an artist and as a person,” she says. “I was able to learn new tricks and ways to work with lighting, journalism, clients and more. They each pushed me to keep an open mind, and add a mixed media aspect to my photos for this project, rather than keeping things traditional as I normally would.” 

Continuing the Story

The goal for the student artists was to tell a story about an aspect of who they are, and share their story with others.

“The reason that I love art so much is because it’s not all about the colors or shapes or objects that you see, it’s about what it makes you feel and the story it tells, which a lot of artists use to tell our own story,” says Darian.

And there will always be a story to tell, adds Ayrielle.

“When it comes to art I like how relaxing it can be, and all of the emotions and stories each piece of artwork evokes,” she says. “I also enjoy working with graphic design, but my favorite medium would be paint because I have a fun time using it, I like having the capability to create my own colors and stories that may not ever be created again.” 

Through his tenure at Keuka College, Travis believes he has grown as an artist and painter, and he has found themes he likes to focus on. 

“I like that fact that I am creating life-like images that will be around longer than I will,” he says. 

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