Student artists put dozens of hours for BFA Senior Exhibition

An art student glazes a ceramic pot she created. Kenneth Prabhakar | Photo Editor

By Tyler White | Reporter

At the Martin Museum of Art, the works of graduating seniors are on display for the BFA Senior Exhibition. Each piece of art — whether sculpting, painting, graphic design or photography — takes hours of work each day for months.

Waco senior Ellis Barber has many of his sculptures in the exhibit to showcase his proficiency. He works to mix different traditional materials, particularly wood and metal, and combine the geometric stiffness of the metal with the fluidity of the wood.

“I didn’t want to just center on one, because at some point I feel like that gets kind of repetitive, and I think you have to grow as an artist by using different materials,” Barber said. “I really love combining both of the elements in my pieces.”

Barber said a lot of preparation goes into making a sculpture, beginning with hours of figuring out the idea, finding measurements and creating little models of the pieces. He said he takes the time to lay this out beforehand to know where he’s headed.

Barber said he sets a deadline to do a sculpture every three weeks. This allows him to put equal emphasis on every piece of work, keeping himself from making a simple piece in a week or putting too much time into a complex piece over a month. Even if it isn’t perfect, it gives him the opportunity to grow and refine his work over time.

“You’re making something that other people are going to view and appreciate, and you can just not be so stressful and meticulous over everything,” Barber said. “You can be a little more fluid and understand that mistakes or little blemishes are part of a piece. It doesn’t have to be perfect.”

Even with these deadlines, Barber said he takes his time and pours his effort into each piece.

“I tried to do the math, and it’s like if I work two to three hours, at least, a day, that’s like 40 to 50 hours per sculpture, and that sounds about right,” Barber said.

Thousand Oaks, Calif., senior Bailey West said she expresses her story of identity through her photography series titled “Where Truth Lies.” In this series, she presents a journey of embracing the question of finding identity in Jesus or finding it in the world.

“It’s me confronting the decision of like, am I going to choose life and choose identity of Jesus, or am I going to choose life and identity in this world?” West said.

Similar to Barber, West said she takes multiple weeks to plan her photographs, then takes a few weeks to execute the various scenes she has in mind. Even though the actual shooting only takes a couple hours, she said the editing process adds additional weeks as the vision and goals shift.

“You plan to do something, and then it completely changes like halfway through because you’re like, ‘Oh, I want to do this,’” West said. “And as you’re taking the photos or planning it like, ‘Oh, this is turning into something different.’”

West said she thinks people don’t realize the work that goes into the planning. She said she hopes people can look at her work and that of others in the exhibition and appreciate what went into creating the series.

“The time that we put in is how we create our crafts and our art, and I just really hope that people will be able to look at the art that is created there and just be able to appreciate the time and the commitment,” West said.

Houston senior Abby Baty shared her graphic design projects in the exhibition with a variety of designs for books covers, products and posters.

“When we go into a project, we have to do extensive mood boards and research,” Baty said. “I remember some of the first projects for identity design, we had to come in with 50 sketches, and we had to have multiple type exploration on a page, many different color palettes. And then you kind of jump off of there.”

After this preparation time of six hours of working on a process notebook and not even using 90% of the material, Baty said she spent a lot of time working on each individual project. She said most of the students involved in these graphic design projects would work upward of 24 hours a week.

“So Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I would treat it like a job,” Baty said. “I said, ‘I’m going to get to the library at 9 a.m. and I’m going to stay as long as I can,’ so I would say a minimum of six hours working on the computer.”

Like the other art mediums, Baty said it was always easy to get so caught up in the details and focus on perfecting every small thing. She said it was necessary to realize that different projects take different amounts of time.

“Sometimes I would get one project done within a week, fully done,” Baty said. “Then another takes me three weeks and I’d be stressing out and I’d have to go back to the drawing board
multiple times.”

Midlothian senior Zara Montoya worked on a show that displayed the concept of childhood nostalgia and imagination through dreamy painting. She said she was influenced by animation and illustrations and wanted to portray that through her painting.

“I wanted to bring to the world just like this new perspective of how beautiful life can be and how beautiful it was when we were kids,” Montoya said.

Montoya said this was a project that spanned all the way back to sophomore year. By the time senior year came around for painting majors, she said she started to work on mock paintings and thumbnail sketches to gather her ideas.

Montoya said that with her design of maintaining a cinematic ratio in her paintings, she had to create the canvases herself, which took a couple of hours each. Then, she said each painting in the series took around five to 12 days.

“Something that my professor always says is if you have a due date, try and make them as perfect as you can before the due date,” Montoya said. “But if you’re getting close and it’s not where you want it to be, just think about what will make this look like a finished painting. It may not be what you planned for, but it could still be just as good.”

Montoya said it’s important to take time to look at your work. It may add time to what you do, but that extra hour allows you to see where you’re headed and what you can do next to maximize
your time.

“You have to take the time to step back and sometimes even just sit down and stare at your painting and analyze it, and that sounds so boring,” Montoya said. “I hated the idea of doing it, but it helps a lot.”