Art Student Exhibition tells folk tales, tackles grief

(Left) Megan Maat - The Seven Ravens, (Right) Abby Baty - The Process of Grief. Olivia Havre | Photographer

By Tyler White | Reporter

Various artworks of a multitude of styles line the walls and fill the space of Baylor’s Martin Museum of Art. From photography to ceramics to paintings, the museum boasts the many talents of Baylor students in the Baylor Art Student Exhibition.

After going through the process of submitting their work for review, many of Baylor’s art students awaited the awards selection from the juror of the showcase, Ricky Armendariz. With an array of awards highlighting fiber arts, photography, ceramics, printmaking and other styles, the Baylor Art Student Exhibition is home to many outstanding works of art.

San Jose, Calif., junior Megan Maat won the printmaking award for her piece, “The Seven Ravens.” She was inspired by traditional Nordic folk tales and found the story of the seven ravens to be a truly powerful story that she wanted to tell authentically through her art.

“It follows a story of this girl who discovers she has seven brothers who are cursed into ravens,” Maat said. “So it was a story of self discovery and risk taking, and just like following her journey to find her brothers, and it just was a really deep story that I liked and wanted to illustrate.”

She spent time researching the different tales and took inspiration from them in how she composed her sketches. She said she wanted to tell the story through her piece in a way that showed the impact of the tale and allowed viewers to have their own reaction to the story itself.

“I thought they would be the most interesting for people to see and get kind of like their own reaction to because I tried to make a kind of surrealism-type style,” Maat said. “So I wanted to have pieces where people could have different reactions.”

Maat said she wants people to find the piece relatable and to look deeper into the true meaning of the story. She wants people not to just look at the piece at a glance, but to take the time to actually appreciate the value and take in all the details that the print has to offer.

“It just opened my eyes to these lesser known stories that, like I’ve said, influenced more modern stories,” Maat said. “For other people, I just kind of hope that like it shows a more emotional side of art, and also just brings awareness to these traditions that have been passed down in other countries as well.”

Houston senior Abby Baty and her friend Midland junior Kaleigh Boyt won the fiber arts award for their piece, “The Process of Grief.” With its unique concept of a tapestry woven in with a bedroom dresser, Baty said she wanted to portray the five stages of grief through different colors and materials after losing her father in the Fall of 2021.

“I ended up reading this ‘Jesus Calling’ one night in the middle of the night,” Baty said. “I was just going through my photos and I found something and it said, ‘God can take your grief and weave it into a pattern of good,’ and I was like, wow, that sticks out so much.”

She said this idea of using weaving and tapestry provided a different artistic outlet for her to process her grief. She said that this slow process of art allowed her to take time with it and think through why she was making this piece and what it meant to her.

“I feel like as an art major, there’s a lot of pressure you have to put this emotion into art — you have to work through your feelings in art and I hadn’t found kind of a medium that I felt reflected my feelings in a productive way,” Baty said.

She said she feels that grief isn’t talked about enough with people, that it’s a topic that is often too uncomfortable to discuss among friends. She said putting this piece into the exhibition was a bold move, but it allows others to enter into that conversation of grief.

“I could sit there for hours and talk about how sad I am, so kind of putting my feelings into something that is more than words that people can better kind of see, so you know, like the colors and the textures and stuff like that represents a lot more than words sometimes,” Baty said.

She said she wants her piece to be an opportunity for people to relate and understand this process of grief through something more than just words. She wants “The Process of Grief,” with all of its woven materials and colors and sentimental objects, to be a portrayal of this slow and tough process, but showing how it is to live and experience it.

“I hope it reaches people in ways that they can’t, they can’t put into words,” Baty said.